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Letter: Heggins works toward diversity, inclusion on boards

I have attended City Council meetings for the last four years, both in person and virtually. The council members have been the same during that time, although some have changed which seat they occupy in the city chamber. There have been numerous discussions and votes, some routine, some contentious and some historic.

At the virtual City Council annual retreat in February, Mayor Pro Tem Al Heggins pointed out the lack of people of color on the city’s boards and commissions and asked that the council work to include more Black and brown people. She asked for racial diversity and inclusion

At the City Council meeting on March 2, it was encouraging to see council members working together on this issue. The city recently amended the application form for boards and commissions by asking for the applicants ethnicity. As Heggins pointed out, talking about race makes people uncomfortable and she thanked her fellow council members for acknowledging this. As an elected official, she is aware that 70% of board and commission members are white and only 20% are Black and we must overcome our aversion to discomfort.

Progress has been made by these council members, who unanimously passed a resolution in January 2019 condemning “all acts of violence and racial terrorism perpetrated against African-Americans, from which they were not rightfully protected during the Jim Crow era” and initiating the process of “reconciliation of racial injustice.”

And again in June 2020 by a unanimous vote to relocate the Confederate statue.

Now, that the council is striving to be more inclusive, I feel an opportunity to recognize this continued progress was missed when an editorial in the Salisbury Post following the meeting criticized a comment made by Heggins. Taken out of context and twisted to sell newspapers? Probably. Yet another misguided attack on Heggins? Definitely!

— Mary Walker

Salisbury

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