‘Not in Our Town’ efforts spread PDF Print E-mail
Written by DAVID DUPONT Sentinel Staff Writer   
Thursday, 21 November 2013 11:06
File photo. A banner with signatures supporting the "Not in Our Town" pledge against discrimination is seen during a kickoff for Not in Our Town Week. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
The Not In Our Town campaign is making its voice heard in Bowling Green.
The national effort to address acts of hatred and hate speech was officially kicked off on the Bowling Green State University campus last April in the wake of racist tweets. But summer break took away some of the momentum, and then another tweet by a non-student directed at the Black Student Union on campus, provided impetus to kick start the campaign again.
The goal is to encourage people to speak up against expressions and acts of hatred.
On Tuesday night the first meeting in the Bowling Green community was held to generate support. About 150 people attended and were asked to recite and sign pledges saying they would stand up to bullying and hate speech based on race, ethnicity, physical gender, sexual orientation and identity, ability or age.
Top community leaders - Mayor Dick Edwards, BGSU president Mary Ellen Mazey, and Superintendent of Schools Ann McVey - all gave their support for the campaign.
"I see it as re-enforcing and enhancing the work of our long-standing Human Rights Commission," Edwards said.
He praised "the great work... driving this forward," especially by students.
Mazey said it is notable and important that she, Edwards and McVey can call each other up to discuss issues of mutual concern. Their relationship, she said, "should be a model for the nation for how to work together."
Mazey noted that 20 percent of this year's freshman class are "students of color." Also, the university has about 600 international students, a figure she would like to more than double "because it adds to diversity to our community."
McVey said: "We are one community and one community that celebrates diversity. This country was built by a diverse people, and this country will be strengthened by events such as this, diverse people coming together with the common goal of unity."
Vicky Kulicke, the co-chair of the effort, said it was launched in 1995 after an incident in Billings, Montana, an incident that was the subject of a PBS documentary.
A later documentary was screened at Tuesday's gathering showing how Not In Our Town or Not in Our School campaigns were used: at the University of Mississippi in the face of long-standing traditions with racist overtones; in Bloomington, Ind. after an attack on a synagogue; and in a southern California school district to counter bullying.
A university doctoral student Vivienne Felix and high school senior Grace Easterly explained the background and goals of Not In Our Town.
Felix went through the recent incidents including the arson of the mosque in Perrysburg and the local man with affiliation to hate groups. Incidents like these have a long-term effect on the victims, she said.
Easterly said the goal was to break the silence and to teach "lessons of acceptance, love and trust, not lessons of divisiveness and hatred."
A Not In Our Town contingent will march in Saturday's Holiday Parade.

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