Diversity Awards Honor Multicultural Programs and Race Relations Efforts

Article excerpt

The 1999 City Cultural Diversity Awards were presented to seven NLC city winners by the National League of Cities' (NLC) National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials (NBC-LEO) at this year's Congressional City Conference. By population category, the first place winners were presented to Boston, Mass. (over 400,001); Hampton, Va. (100,001 to 400,000); Wilmington, N. C. (25,001 to 100,000); and Liberal, Kan. (less than 25,000).

Cities selected as runners-up were Tempe, Ariz. (100,001 to 400,000); Denton, Tex. (25,001 to 100,000); and Leesburg, Fla. (less than 25,000).

This year, the awards were presented at the Celebrate Diversity Breakfast which is cosponsored by all of NLC's constituency and member groups: the Asian Pacific American Municipal Officials (APAMO); the Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Local Officials (GLBLO); the Hispanic Elected Local Officials (HELO); the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials (NBC-LEO); the University Communities Caucus (UCC); and Women in Municipal Government (WIMG).

At this general session, Aida Alvarez, administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, highlighted the administration's support for minorities and women in their entrepreneurial quests. "The emergence of women and minority entrepreneurs are part of the new markets," she told delegates.

At the award ceremony, NBC-LEO President Charles Yancey, councillor of Boston, and NBC-LEO Awards Chair Mamye BaCote, councilmember of Newport News, Va., presented the awards to the representatives of each winning city. Each city received a trophy from NBC-LEO for the success of their program's unique and diverse goals.

In addition to BaCote, the NBC-LEO judges for this year's awards were Johnny Robinson, councilmember, College Park, Ga.; Tyson Jones, deputy vice mayor, Lauderhill, Fla. ; and James Montgomery, Sr., councilmember, Anniston, Ala.

Speaking at the ceremoney, Yancey said NBC-LEO is part of an effort to end the use of the term "minority" to refer to those he calls "people of color."

"We are motivated to increase our knowledge about diversity among ourselves and within our cities and towns," Yancey said. "Very soon people of color will not be in the minority in the United States of America. The National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials has begun a discussion to urge that the federal government cease in its references to people of color as minorities. We believe that not only would that term be anachronistic in another few years, it also limits the of empowerment of African Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanic Americans. We believe it's a discussion that's long overdue."

The award-winning cities were chosen for their program descriptions which are listed below.

Boston Massachusetts 1st Place

Boston, 400,001 plus category winner, was recognized for its program, "Boston Housing Authority Diversity and Mediation Project," which addresses bias and power imbalances between public housing tenants and the Authority. Tenants and Housing Authority employees may undergo five days of training of conflict resolution. Classes focus on bias and harassment based on class, gender, ethnicity, race, disability, etc., as well as different methods of mediation for different types of conflicts.

Details: Vivian Leonard, director, at (617) 635-4698.

Hampton, Virginia 1st Place

Hampton, the 100,001 to 400,00 winner, was selected for its "Citizen's Unity Commission," a 21-member Citizens' Unit Commission which designs and implements programs to help the community appreciate diversity in the city. …