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Editorial: Speaking up … and acting

The community could use more people like William Peoples. In giving Peoples the key to the city this week, Salisbury leaders acknowledged that the big man with the deep voice can be a sharp and persistent critic of municipal policies. But where others merely cast stones, Peoples is equally passionate about tearing down walls and building bridges to make this a better place to live, whether through improved race relations, increased minority hiring or upgraded housing for low-income residents.
These days, with the burgeoning of social media, websites, blogs and such, almost anyone can seize a digital megaphone (or one at council meetings) and make a lot of noise, railing against the powers that be. While that may provide momentary satisfaction, it usually doesnít change anything, not for the better.
ěItís easy to stand on the sidelines and complain, but if you want to make a difference, you roll up your sleeves and get involved,î Peoples said in accepting the award at the mayorís spirit luncheon.
Peoplesí involvement has covered a lot of ground, from zoning, anti-gang efforts and child protection to the Human Relations Council and NAACP.
In a 2009 profile in the Salisbury Post, he cited this as a quote to live by: ěDo the best you can and try to be honest and truthful.î
Speaking truth to power can be difficult and painful, especially for those on the receiving end. But when you combine criticism with earnest efforts to find workable solutions, it can be a powerful force for a fairer, more just society.

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