CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA –
At their regular meeting last night, the Charlottesville City Council appointed the following citizen representatives to the Dialogue on Race Steering Committee (in alphabetical order)
William B. Harvey
Walter F. Heineke
Gertrude A. Ivory
Dion W. Lewis
Holly Edwards, City Councilor
Background on the Initiative: During a Council discussion last September, City Council identified seven priority areas for the City government to focus on in 2009. Included in that plan was the issue addressing race relations within the community. This City-wide endeavor will engage our residents in an on-going discussion to better understand each other, our backgrounds, our history, our perceptions and how past actions continue to affect life in Charlottesville today.
There have been attempts to address the issue of race in our community in the past but they have either been short-lived or very specific in scope. A study of successful initiatives in other communities revealed two important keys to ensuring long-term success with this important effort: engage every segment of the community, and develop a dialogue that is sustainable and comprehensive. These communities found that engagement should include representatives from every walk of life – residents, businesses, churches, schools, non-profit groups, and advanced education partners and neighboring jurisdictions. Sustainability was also emphasized and recommended for assistance in determining the best ways to engage in this type of dialogue.
The City recognizes that community issues with race and the attitudes and experiences of those who reside here do not develop overnight and will not be solved or changed through one discussion. The City believes that this effort will take many months and possibly years for the community to better understand the concerns and fears of their neighbors and this beginning will ultimately sow the seeds to find solutions to address longer-term challenges that may be creating division in our community.
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