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08:11 pm 04/29/2017
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Diversity and Race Relations

 

Sherrell and MLK award.jpg 

Award received in 2015.

 

Harrison's Diversity and Race Relations

 The City of Harrison is a warm, friendly place. This town is dedicated to attracting and welcoming people of good will. We encourage people of every ethnic and religious background to join us. Come here and build on our strengths.

 

In our nation, it’s hard to find any community without bigots and racists. We sure don’t claim to be so fortunate or so virtuous. Our problem is that our town struggles with a wide-spread and long-lasting perception that we are dominated by bigotry and racism.

 

The roots of that perception lie in our history and in unfortunate current associations. We can’t avoid it. We can’t pretend there’s nothing to it or that it doesn’t matter. History and circumstance have forced us to face up to it.

Many decent people of this town have placidly accepted this handicap for many years, believing the image would fade in time as the racial divide in the United States healed.   Instead, the impact of the internet and social media has magnified the negative message spread by small groups on our fringes.

In 2003, Mayor Bob Reynolds convened the Harrison Community Task Force on Race Relations, a group of local clergy and volunteers, to tell the story of our town and its people. He perceived that the time had come for Harrison’s people to represent themselves as they truly are; imperfect, flawed people who share both a troubled past and a deep and abiding respect for our fellow human beings; people who are moved to follow the most basic command - love our neighbors.

 

Presenting a Truthful Image
We present the opinions and aspirations of people of good will in a small town in the Ozarks of North Arkansas. Our story of friendly and decent people is in stark contrast to the story some people have cultivated for many years. Those people have tried to show our town as a place where those who don’t fit a narrow mold are unwelcome and unsafe.

We are determined to reject that lie and show the truth.

Educating and Informing
We have worked consistently to tell the story of the welcoming people of this community. We present the case of people who go far beyond toleration to preach and practice love for all our neighbors. People in this community, and in this area, tend to be highly tolerant of their neighbors' differences. We are strong believers in everyone's right to be left alone. Once the community came to understand that white supremacy is not a personal foible, but a damaging influence on our community commerce and reputation, it began to respond to change those perceptions.

Resistance to the influence of the white supremacy movement has not been passive or purely reactive in Harrison. In some measure, that's due to the Task Force's recognition that Harrison’s menacing image wasn’t the residual effect of our history that would fade in time but a planned attack by white supremacists to use our community’s name for their personal gain. The Harrison Task Force on Race Relations has worked for years to promote and foster the image and reality of Harrison as a community where all people are treated with warmth, dignity, and respect.  We are a rallying point for people who believe in fair treatment for everyone, in equal protection under the law, and in the principle of judging a person by that person's character and value to the community.

 

 

 

 

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