Cities and Towns across the Nation Celebrate Race Equality and Inclusive Communities Week

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Focusing on ways to promote racial equality and build more inclusive communities, cities and towns throughout the United States are taking part in the 7th annual Race Equality and Inclusive Communities Week, Sept. 25-29.

Sponsored by NLC, the special week will be observed by cities from Phoenix to Bartow, Fla., as they reaffirm their commitment to fostering inclusiveness by working to eliminate racism and discrimination through a broad range of activities. Special events include discussion forums and diversity luncheons, as well as resource and information fairs.

"The strength and health of any community often relies on the quality of the relationships its citizens have with one another," said NLC President James Hunt, council-member, Clarksburg, W.Va. "Creating racial and ethnic equality is one part of the larger goal to build communities that welcome all people. As municipal leaders, it is our duty to make sure every citizen--regardless of race, gender, physical ability, age or economic status--feels they are valued and can participate fully as a member of the community."

As Congress prepares to adjourn for the election season, NLC Executive Director Donald J. Borut said issues of inclusiveness and harmony are particularly important.

"While polarizing political debates continue to divide groups, it is more important than ever for local governments to step up and find ways for their citizens to connect with one another," Borut said. "A community is only as good as its most disenfranchised citizen and as we face the tough issues ahead of us, the only viable solutions will be those in which all community members have a say."

Originally called Race Equality Week, the celebration grew from an effort launched in 2000 to challenge city leaders to focus on improving race relations in their communities. Today, Race Equality and Inclusive Communities Week is part of NLC's larger Partnership for Working Toward Inclusive Communities. The partnership, which currently boasts 95 members, aims to raise awareness and focus attention on the importance and value of inclusive communities.

Some cities combined the two initiatives. Others are focusing on an individual initiative. For instance, the city council in Baltimore passed a resolution on Aug. 14 joining the inclusive communities partnership and designated Sept. 25-29 as Inclusive Communities Week.

Celebration Activities

The following cities have or will be taking part in activities in honor of Race Equality and Inclusive Communities Week.

* Fayetteville, N.C., will sponsor a series of week-long events through the Fayetteville-Cumberland Human Relations Commission. Its recognition of Race Equality and Inclusive Communities Week includes public displays at the Downtown Headquarters Library, City Hall and other local agencies; youth group discussions and a panel discussion.

* The Bartow Community Relations Committee will hold a Diversity Luncheon on Sept. 27, at the Bartow Civic Center, with guest speaker Dr. E. Nathan Thomas III, director of diversity for the University of South Florida.

* In State College, Pa., seven community organizations have teamed up in an effort to welcome new residents to Centre County. The Community Resources Fair will be held from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sept. 27 at the State College Municipal Building. More than 30 local groups will participate, allowing new residents to learn more about the diverse range of organizations and resources available in the Centre Region, including cultural, community and health care resources. …