Less than a few weeks after the George Ross verdict — in which five white police officers were acquitted in the brutal beating of a black man— a group of about 60 McKinney residents gathered at the McKinney Ministry.

They were congregating not only to vent their concern about the racism and violence spawned by the events in McKinney but to deplore the racial inequities right here at home.

“Hardly a Saturday worship goes by without someone expressing despair over the situation of our schools, violence in our streets, the problems of addiction”, says Robert Cummings, pastor of the McKinney Ministry and one of the organizers of the March 18 meeting. “Everyone at the meeting expressed frustration and anger about what goes on.”

Out of that meeting evolved a multiracial, intergenerational core group of 20 people with a common desire to do some-thing more than just talking about racism.

They gave themselves the name RAAGE, which stands for Race Awareness Arbitration Group Education. Their stated purpose is to “help educate [ourselves and others] about diversity and respect, racism and anger, and above all to help bridge the gap between those in conflict.”

“We didn’t know what we would do or how we would do it”, says Jane Lane, a member of the group and the mother of two bi-racial children. “But we wanted to do something.”

Some began by discussing the subtle racism they saw around them daily.

Others described their own experiences as victims of racist hate crimes McKinney.

One person, who preferred not to give her name, related an incident that occurred while she was working as a babysitter for a family on View Street. She received a death threat note, she said, made with letters cut out of a newspaper and left on a car windshield, as well as phone calls at all hours of the day and night, from someone with a muffled, disguised voice, saying: “We don’t want any niggers here.”

In addition to exchanging such stories, group members started strategizing with members of the community. One of their first actions was to organize meetings with Elm Street merchants, several neighborhood associations, the Community Boards program, and the McKinney Police Department’s Hate Crimes Division.