White House Beer Summit May Be on Tap Soon for President and Guests

Meeting in racially charged case could happen "in the next several days."

ByABC News
July 26, 2009, 11:30 AM

July 26, 2009— -- As Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates and Cambridge police Sgt. James Crowley prepare for beers with President Obama, some hope the toasting at the White House will be just the start of new, long-needed conversations about race in this country.

"There's no reason to sweep it under the rug. For too long in our history we have just not wanted to have this conversation," Democratic strategist Donna Brazile said today on ABC News' "This Week With George Stephanopoulos."

"We can have a very constructive face-to-face conversation -- pull the resentment, the fear -- so that people can come to a point of tolerance and acceptance," she said.

Crowley arrested Gates at the Harvard professor's home in Cambridge, Mass., earlier this month on a charge of disorderly conduct. Gates allegedly argued with Crowley, who was at the home to investigate a report of a possible break-in. Gates later said he and his driver were trying to open a broken lock on his home.

White House Press Secretary Gibbs said on "Fox News Sunday" that the meeting over beers could happen soon.

"Sgt. Crowley told the president he was game, and I read that professor Gates is the same way, so hopefully we can get that done in the next several days," he said.

But that meeting may only be the start of the healing.

Cambridge Mayor E. Denise Simmons told ABC News today that the city will host a forum on race later this summer.

"What this has provided us is an opportunity to look at an unfortunate situation and look at what we can bring out of that to make our city better," Simmons said.

"It's about having community dialogue, giving people a constructive opportunity to talk about what's on their mind," she said.

"We don't live in a color-blind society, and Cambridge is no different than the rest of the country," Simmons said.