Letter: Work together for diverse Pittsfield
In response to Judy Williamson's editorial page column of March 21 entitled "It can be done in Pittsfield" I couldn't agree more with her title. We don't have yesterday anymore, the wounds are still healing from injustices that are centuries old; we know we have today, and, God willing we will have tomorrow. What is truly needed to create positive change in our city is each of us asking ourselves, " what is it that I can do to contribute to a more diverse and accepting community?"
Well, for starters, we must get involved in programs that endorse acceptance of one another. The city's Affirmative Action Advisory Committee has had three meetings so far, and each of the members wants to try to make a difference. We have asked and are still asking to have someone from the NAACP join the conversation and fill that last slot with representation. We are changing practices and need help doing more.
With regard to Ms. Williamson's concerns over the " hiring" of a white male to coordinate the Shannon Grant, her inferences could not be farther from the truth. To clarify, this position is not a City Hall position. It is a contract which is funded by a state grant. In an effort to cast a far reaching net for applicants, the Request for Proposal was not only posted in all of the required locations including The Berkshire Eagle but I personally reached out to several black leaders in the community to send prospective candidates our way.
The gentleman who was awarded the contract happened to be one of only four white people who pursued this position. He met with a small, diverse group who was interviewing and said hello to the mayor for the first time the day he had come in for an interview.
In clear conscience, I can honestly say that change is slowly happening thanks to many that were not afraid to speak out against oppression and "business as usual" that was for years, accepted as the norm. Are we anywhere near where we need to be to live in a free and accepting community? No we are not. I do know that the only way we will get there is if we look beyond the finger-pointing and blame, celebrate what we do have going right for us, and again, ask ourselves, "what can I do to help?"
True leaders have a dream and realize there is very little time to contribute to that dream, so they make the most impact they can, while they still are here on this earth.
MARY L. McGINNIS
The writer is the city's director of administrative services.
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