3/15/2017, noon | Updated on 3/15/2017, noon
Alan “AP” Powell is one of the nation’s greatest unsung African-American heroes.
AP Powell says that he always knew that he could make a difference. (Official Photo/AP Powell)

workforce. He also wants to raise awareness and increase student and parent knowledge and involvement in diverse educational opportunities.

Some of Arizona’s most notable business people have lauded the Checkered Flag Run Foundation and The Bridge Forum, a partnership between police and communities, founded by Powell.

“The success of our inner cities is dependent upon education, safety and jobs. Without the healthy relationship between our communities

and law enforcement, safety cannot be achieved,” said Robert Sarver,

owner and managing partner of the Phoenix Suns.

E.G. “Ken” Kendrick, the owner and managing general partner

of the Arizona Diamondbacks, said that The Bridge Forum is an example of an important commitment to the community— one that professional sports can embrace.

“More than 50 percent of MLB players are from various ethnic

backgrounds. Anything that brings together diverse communities

and police is of value. I support any program that increases understanding and safety,” Kendrick said.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said local law enforcement

agencies and local communities must work together and The Bridge Forum demonstrates that “we are all on the same team and we share

the goals of ensuring public safety and equal treatment for all in our criminal justice system.”

Johnny C. Taylor, president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and forum co-host, said the chasm between certain

communities and the police responsible for serving and protecting them is growing wider every day.

“If we don’t identify ways to close the gap [quickly], our most fragile communities will suffer irreparable harm,” said Taylor. “The Bridge Forum, therefore, is not a ‘nice to have’ – it is a ‘must have.’”

In bringing law enforcement and community stakeholders together, Powell said he wanted to help affect change, particularly given the recent violence in his hometown and other communities of color across the country.

“I knew I had to bring this conversation back to the city I grew up in,” said Powell. The guest list for last year’s summit included officials from the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, Louisville’s police chief, the director of public safety for DeKalb County, Ga., and the deputy police chief of Detroit, Mich. Powell, the first African-American to own a Napa Smith Winery and Brewery, has also

overseen deals between Coca-Cola and NASCAR on several emerging products that promise to create diversity channels that allow for more

African-American involvement in the sport.

“Do I ever have time for myself? No. But, that’s fine,” Powell said. “My motivation and the reason I don’t get distracted is that I come from the inner city and I understand obstacles and temperament and I can see it in people’s eyes.”