SCHYULKILL COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Tensions have grown around the topic of race relations throughout the country, and many of us are seeing it play out on social media. A Schuylkill County woman is on a mission to dig deeper into the conversation to raise awareness.

We’ve seen the confederate flags hanging outside. There are countless memes about the controversial flag and race floating around the internet. But Pine Grove native Leah Zerbe, is determined to move those online comments and shares into a live discussion.

“We’re certainly not going to solve the world’s race issues but we need to start somewhere and I think popping off on Facebook and having real conversations is where we need to start,” said Zerbe.

This concerned citizen is hosting a zoom online conversation to face the memes head on. Topics include talking about the confederate flag and what it represents. She hopes to create an open, non-judgemental atmosphere to find a common ground.

“Start seeing the world through someone’s different eyes and not just only seeing the world through our narrow lens,” said Zerbe.

Zerbe has recruited half brothers Ronald Webb, who is half-black, and Andy Barrow who is white to join the discussion. Both men are Schuylkill County natives and veterans who call themselves conservative. In a place where 96 percent of Schuylkill County is white, the two men experienced their fair share of racism.

“Looking out at generations now, I think it’s great that people are standing up. Not just black people but all races are standing up to support, you know, this is wrong. Let’s fix this,” said Webb.

Case in point, a bartender at a local fire department bar who was blatantly racist toward Webb by referencing a song that includes an expletive. There were little to no repercussions and the NAACP didn’t provide the support the men expected.

“This is where you need to change the hearts and minds. This is where you need to change people at the base level at a local fire house in Cchuylkill County and make it into a big deal,” said Andy Barrow, Orwigsburg.

They hope conversations like the one Zerbe has planned is a step in the right direction.

Here is the link to join the zoom conversation.