ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Business leaders and heads of local non-profit outreach organizations came to Rockford Thursday to attend a summit on “Eliminating Racism.”

Patrick Dubose, a Black high school student, said he wanted to be part of the conversation at today’s event.

“If I’m at work, people come through the drive-thru, [if] they be mad or something like that, they say the n-word,” he said.

Dubose said he wants to be part of the solution of eliminating racism.

“If everybody not coming together and not led, they will not care about each other, things like that,” he said. “So, if we have groups and all that, about the community coming together, it will bring more minds, open up people’s minds.”

More than 400 people signed up to attend the summit at the UW Health Sports Factory, at 305 S Madison Street.

Billie Callahan, the associate director at the Northern Illinois Center for Nonprofit Excellence, said, “It’s really critical that every person here feels like they belong, feels like they are valued and seen and heard, and have a place that they can be themselves, and to meet, meaningfully.”

Organizers for the event said they believe conversation is the foundation that will help eliminate racism.

“But, more important than having conversations, there have to be plans of action that occur from the conversation,” said Tony Turner, a co-founder of the 815 Mad program, which hosts monthly film screenings and book readings on the subject.

Becky Kendall, executive director of the Rockford Regional Health Council, said, “We are really addressing the social determinant of health that impacts the quality of health of our community, where you live, your environment, the nutrition.”

Dubose said he hopes he can make a difference in his school, which will spill over into the community.

“I feel like every school should have a group that have different type of races, to just talk,” he said. “What they think about the school, things that they want to do to help bring that school better.”

According to the event organizers, they hope the conversation will help the community speak out against racism.