In 1995, Los Angeles’ deeply divided reaction to the verdict in the O.J. Simpson trial underscored how far apart the diverse communities of Los Angeles and the nation stand on some basic issues. As a result, then-Los Angeles City Councilperson Mark Ridley-Thomas called a meeting with 20 prophetic leaders and community activists to defuse escalating tensions. Out of this was born an innovative nonpartisan initiative, Los Angeles’ first citywide discussion—A Day of Dialogue.
Since then, tens of thousands of people, both locally and nationally, have participated in Days of Dialogue programs. Dialogues take place in large civic auditoriums, at schools, in places of worship, neighborhood community centers, fire houses and police stations, and now, in virtual settings online.