Mayor Allen Joines and James C. Hunt, the president of the National League of Cities and a member of the City Council of Clarksburg, W.Va., gathered at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 17, in front of City Hall to formally mark the city’s participation in the Partnership for Working toward Inclusive Communities, a program of the National League of Cities.
During the ceremony a sign was unveiled proclaiming the city’s goal of including all segments of the community in its civic life and decision-making.
The City Council passed a resolution endorsing the city’s participation in the program on Sept. 18. The league started the Inclusive Communities partnership to unite city leaders who support such issues as racial justice and inclusionary zoning, as well as those who celebrate the diversity of race, religions and cultures in order to build communities that are accepting and representative of the differences among its citizens.
Joines said that the city’s participation is an affirmation of its long-standing policy. “Our efforts to make Winston-Salem an inclusive community go back to 1975, when the Board of Aldermen established the Human Relations Commission, and then backed it up with creation of the Human Relations Department in 1978,” he said.
“More recently, we have tried to be inclusive through the Racial Healing Task Force, and by supporting community programs such as the Winston-Salem Institute for Dismantling Racism, the Crossing 52 initiative, the Winston-Salem chapter of Links Inc. and C.H.A.N.G.E.”
Links worked with the Racial Healing Task Force and local schools to sponsor “Creative Expressions Linking to Racial Harmony,” an exhibit of student art. The Crossing 52 initiative recently sponsored the “Blurring Racial Barriers” program.
The Mayor’s office also sponsored a forum in April on the future of Winston-Salem, which discussed the changing ethnic make-up of the city, and it initiated the annual Civil Rights Movement Resolution to honor a local citizen who played a leading role in the Civil Rights movement.
The Human Relations Commission was founded, in part, to study problems of discrimination and encourage fair treatment and mutual understanding among all ethnic groups in the city; to promote equality of opportunity for all citizens; and to provide channels of communication among all ethnic groups.
As the city has diversified, the commission has added programs for the city’s Hispanic residents, such as the “Beyond Soul & Salsa” series of public forum to discuss issues between African-Americans and Hispanics.
Eventually the city hopes to place signs at the city limits affirming the city’s commitment to be an inclusive community, Joines said.
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