The rumblings for RACE TALKS started in 2005 when Portland Public Schools introduced to study groups to the book Courageous Conversations About Race, which helped produce amazingly open conversations about race, class, and white privilege. As one of the Beacon School Facilitators, Donna Maxey knew that this model needed to be shared with the general public. The urgency to start talking now was furthered by this factoid: by 2040 there will be more people of color in the United States than white people. With the help of Tim Hills, McMenamins historian, and Macceo Pettis, founder of UUR, Uniting to Understand Racism, Race Talks emerged in February 2011.

Our Mission

RACE TALKS’ mission is to support interracial and cross-cultural communication and relationships through the development of sensitivity and understanding, and social justice activism supported by educational panels / or films, good food, and great discussions.

RACE TALKS believes that establishing relationship is the most important action needed to help us learn about and support others. As such RACE TALKS encourages its participants to

  • Become diversity and equity activists
  • Make friends across cultural, racial, ethnic, religious, and sexual orientation lines
  • Put your beliefs into action and get actively involved in community reform and developing cross-cultural relations
  • Be the change you want to see


RACE TALKS and RACE TALKS 2 host presentations on historical and current topics of ethnicity and race in Oregon. Speakers include survivors of racism and others who have knowledge of the topic, and provide an opportunity to learn our forgotten and hidden history. Attendees of all ages participate in small groups conversations facilitated by individuals trained to lead interracial / intercultural discussions about race.  For many, this is a new experience and causes life-changing breakthroughs in their personal and professional relationships. Over 13,000 participants have attended Race Talks.

Read more about the beginnings of RACE TALKS.