Jun. 11—ASHLAND — In a nod to minority communities in Ashland, the mayor proclaimed June "Celebrate Diversity Month" at the Thursday meeting of the Ashland City Commission.
Mayor Matthew B. Perkins asked members of the city's Human Rights Commission to come to the benches of the chamber while he issued the proclamation.
"The city welcomes everyone, regardless of race, creed, sexual orientation, gender identity and strives to cultivate diversity to make this city a more equitable and inclusive environment for our employees and citizens," Perkins said. "We ask our citizens to expand outreach to marginalized members of the community and condemn racism, bigotry, oppression and intolerance."
Perkins continued, "I now proclaim June as Celebrate Diversity Month in Ashland and ask our citizens to join us in supporting a community free of persecution, oppression and hate."
June is Gay Pride month around the country, which commemorates the Stone Wall Riots of 1969. The riots began as a reaction to the New York City Police Department raiding the Stone Wall bar, a gay hang out. After several nights of clashes, the police backed down and the riots have been viewed as the starting point for the modern gay rights movement.
Additionally, Juneteenth is also observed on June 19. That celebration commemorates when Union troops entered Texas to enforce Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation in 1865. Later that year, Delaware and Kentucky would abolish slavery when the 13th Amendment passed.
While the mayor's proclamation didn't explicitly mention Juneteenth or Pride Month, members from the African American and LGBTQ community expressed their gratitude to the mayor during the public comment portion of the meeting.
Holly Edwards, the president of Ashland Pride, said she felt like the proclamation "pays homage to people who have endured bigotry in this community."
"Thank you for taking a stand and having our backs," Edwards said.
Edwards also mentioned there will be a Pride Art festival June 25 at the Grayson Art Center and a Pride Picnic June 26 at Central Park. Edwards invited the commission to come and check it out.
Faith Fountain, a member of the Human Rights Commission and Ashland for Change, said the proclamation was a "big step for the city and the community."
"We have to seek it out not just for us, but for our children," Fountain said. "This is a one small step for the change we want to see here."
Fountain also reminded and invited the commission and the public to attend a Juneteenth Celebration slated for June 20th at the Central Park band stand. It will include music, speakers and food from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Kasheena Davis, another member of Ashland for Change, reminded the commission that with all the events coming up over the summer folks with disabilities need to be included as well.
"I hope all these events are accessible for the disabled and I'm not just talking about wheel chair ramps," Davis said. "We need areas for neurological divergent people who are having issues with sensory overload, sign language and visual aids."
Perkins said he appreciated the comments from Davis, noting that "sometimes we don't realize other people might have difficulty accessing events in our community."
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