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Welcome everyone, and thank you for being here this evening to kick off Black History Month in Bloomington!  Many thanks to all who have partnered to make tonight’s celebration happen, along with all of the many events scheduled over the course of the next month--with special thanks to Beverly Calender-Anderson and her staff at the Department of Community and Family Resources, including Safe and Civil Director Shatoyia Moss, the 2020 Black History Month Committee, and Chairs, James Sanders and Dr. Gloria Howell. 

 

Thank you to Dr. Gerald Onuoha, whose keynote speech we very much are looking forward to.  And thanks as well to the Commission on the Status of Black Males, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Commission the Bloomington Black Strategic Alliance, the NAACP, Black Lives Matter, the MCCSC, among the many groups that work to make equity and inclusion our standard operating procedure in Bloomington.  Also, thanks to tonight’s performers for the beautiful, moving music: Tiesha Douglas, Tislam Swift, Darian Clonts, Dexter Griffin, and Marcus Peterson.

 

Every day in Bloomington, hardworking volunteer board and commission members, nonprofit partners, City staff, and many, many others attend to the urgent business of creating opportunities so that everyone, wherever they are planted, can bloom. Meeting people where they are--whether student, parent or elder. The activities are impressive. Just consider the events presented by the Safe and Civil City Program alone -- 

  • Black History Month Celebration includes Kick-off, Essay Contest, State of the Black Community and Gala
  • Girls Leadership Summit 
  • Black y Brown Arts Festival - a partnership with Latino Outreach and ESD
  • Coordinating the Black History Month Living Legend and Visionary Leader Awards
  • Supporting diversity and inclusion efforts of other City departments

 

Or the Commission on the Status of Black Males’ and its Men’s Health Initiative, which has organized these events--

  • Million Father March - welcoming students back on the first day of school
  • Coordinate Outstanding Black Leader of Tomorrow Awards 
  • Black Male Youth Summit 
  • Provided 100 free colon cancer screenings for Black men
  • Annual Barbershop Initiative - physical and mental health screenings and health resources
  • Cultural Christmas - partnership with Black Graduate Student Association, Banneker Community Center and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity

 

The MLK Commission just hosted another successful 

  • MLK Day Community Celebration on January 20, and will present 
  • The MLK Day of Remembrance in April

 

The members and volunteers with our City boards and commissions play such a vital role in the life of our city, in the work of justice and inclusion.  We are so grateful to those of you who choose to serve on these bodies. For those of you here tonight who are not involved in this way, think about it. Consider board service. With just an hour or two a month (or more?), you can make a big difference. Check it out at bloomington.in.gov/boards.   

 

I would also like to salute the important partner we have at Indiana University for collaboration throughout the year--for the Juneteenth celebration at the Neal-Marshall Center, for example, and the Kelley School of Business Office of Diversity and Inclusion, for an ongoing Town Hall series.  And in that same spirit, I do want to call attention to a few additional initiatives underway to continue the hard work of creating a more inclusive community--

  • In 2019, City department heads participated in Implicit Bias training provided by Bloomington’s Building a Thriving Compassionate Community group
  • We are in the process of forming an internal cross-departmental City team to serve as the Mayor's Diversity Advisory Committee
  • And we are working with the Divided Community Project’s Bridge Initiative out of The Ohio State University--which, as you know, conducted numerous interviews in the community last fall to get at some of the deep, divisive, racial issues in our community -- published a report (available at City website) and will be continuing to work with Bloomington folks in formal trainings and in facilitating the formation of a Community Task Force.  

 

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention the good work the Community and Family Resources Department is doing in heading up, with our friends at the county, the local campaign to get everyone counted for the 2020 Census! Yes, it’s that time again. Every 10 years the census counts every person living in the 50 states, District of Columbia, and 5 U.S. territories. The results determine how much funding local communities receive for key public services and how many seats each state gets in Congress. State and local officials also use census counts to draw boundaries for congressional, state legislative, and school districts. Your information is used only for this purpose and remains private.   Since people of color in general and Black males, specifically, are historically undercounted, we want to make sure you are counted. Everyone Counts! By April 1, 2020, every home will receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census. You will have three options for responding: online, by phone or by mail. If you have not responded by May, Census enumerators will visit your home.  Remember - Everyone Counts - complete the 2020 Census this Spring. 

 

Thanks to all of you for being here, and for the good work you are doing in our community. Next, I hand things off to our Bloomington treasure Beverly Calender-Anderson, the director of our City Department of Community and Family Resources, who will present this year’s Visionary Leader Award.


 

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