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Success occurs when community unites to promote diversity

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Posted: Tuesday, September 22, 2015 10:15 pm

It was an honor to spearhead the creation of the Multicultural Peace March & Rally and to receive such incredible support for the event.

So much strife, hatred and destruction has occurred in our society simply based on the differences we hold that I felt inspired to develop an event focused on celebrating our differences by bringing our community together.

Prior to the Multicultural Peace March & Rally, I had taken a great deal of time to reflect on the negative events that have plagued our society over the last several years. Therefore, I wanted to be proactive and develop an event that positively addressed the diversity within our community and assist us in engaging in important dialogue focused on embracing and celebrating our diversity.

As the director of Multicultural Affairs at Stephen F. Austin State University, I have made it my duty to engage in such dialogue. I have had the pleasure of working directly with and learning from a variety of different cultures and ethnicities.

My passion for diversity fueled the creation of the event and assisted me in designing every single step that went into its creation. My desire was to develop an event that resembled the diversity found within our Nacogdoches community and not just an event that catered to only one particular group.

To make this happen, I reached out to some of my closest friends in the community who I knew would be interested in such a venture. They, in turn, reached out to their friends and before I knew it, we had an incredibly active and energetic committee. Individuals who served on the Multicultural Peace Committee with me were George Patterson, Sarah Carbajal, Leonard Sweat, Sharon Templeman, Kyle Childress, Donald Lacy, Queen Handy, Kim Foli, Justin Ikpo, Wanda Cuniff, Katherine Whitbeck, James Montoya, Trenten Oliver, Trishala Roy and Charlotte Stokes. We met weekly beginning in the first week of July until the day of the Multicultural Peace March & Rally on Aug. 30. Each meeting was focused on making sure that we covered every avenue that we could think of to ensure that the event would be a success. We developed a clear and concise blueprint which outlined every important criterion, which included determining the march route and rally locations, securing water donations to make sure that event attendees would be well hydrated, developing a marketing plan, contacting city officials to make sure that they were aware of the event, and creating a rally program that would spark conversations about diversity.

After meeting for nine weeks and perfecting our event plan, we could not wait for the day of the Multicultural Peace March & Rally. The day of the event played out like a beautiful dream. The amount of people that came out to celebrate our differences and embrace diversity was beyond our expectations. Over 200 people attended the rally. The event was extraordinarily diverse with attendees from all ages, cultures, ethnicities and religions in attendance.

During the march, event attendees felt very safe due to Police Chief Jim Sevey and Lt. Dan Taravella making sure that officers were present throughout the march route. We arrived for the rally at the Nacogdoches County Courthouse early, which allowed event attendees to participate in an exercise where they were asked to speak to someone they did not know. The exercise was a wonderful tone setter for the rest of the event and as the Master of Ceremony for the rally, I cannot put to the words the amount of positive energy the crowd emitted.

The rally featured energizing music from the Westminster Presbyterian Church Choir, a marvelous poem from Nytesia Ross, and enlightening speeches from Kyle Childress, Donald Lacy, and Trishala Roy. Furthermore, without the support and involvement of the Multicultural Peace Committee members, the event would not have been such a huge success.

To be the catalyst for such a remarkable event has been very humbling and I truly feel blessed and honored to have worked with such a marvelous group of people. As a committee, we plan on continuing the promotion of respecting, embracing and celebrating the wonderful differences found within our multicultural community.

Dr. Osaro E. Airen is director of multicultural affairs at SFA.

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Welcome to the discussion.

1 comment:

  • Kenyon Odonnell posted at 4:33 am on Mon, Oct 19, 2015.

    Kenyon Odonnell Posts: 1

    A key principle that defines healthy communities is encouraging diversity. This becomes apparent each time you read black urban news, and notice the difference between places that encourage the integration of minorities and those who just dismiss the subject entirely. The truth is every group of people needs to share the same goals and values in order to be successful, and diversity is a key aspect.


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