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Library, Schools, City endorse Oakwood Inclusion Coalition

From the Oakwood Register

October 7, 2020 (link to original article)

Library, schools, city endorse Oakwood Inclusion Coalition Oakwood took a collective, cooperative step toward expanding diversity in the city Monday when City Council endorsed the formation of a “citizen-driven coalition” dedicated to enhancing and promoting inclusivity and diversity.

The newly formed Oakwood Inclusion Coalition, or OIC, is billed as an organization of government, school, and library officials, private citizens, faith, ethnic and cultural leaders, and representatives from the business and media in the Oakwood area and beyond. Its mission is “to study, promote, and celebrate an inclusive, equitable, diverse and welcoming environment and community for everyone who lives, works, visits, or passes through Oakwood,” Oakwood Mayor William Duncan said.

Oakwood City Council on Monday adopted a resolution to recognize and endorse the creation of the coalition. Similar measures will be voted on by the Oakwood Board of Education at its Oct. 12 meeting and by the Wright Memorial Public Library Board when it meets on Oct. 19.

“As a citizen-driven organization the Oakwood Inclusion Coalition is not a public office or agency, or a public-private joint venture under the city’s control. The city of Oakwood expresses strong support of the mission and purpose of the OIC,” Duncan added, noting that plans call for the OIC to present an annual report to city leaders each January. “The city of Oakwood will regularly follow the work of the OIC and will support the work of the organization with representative participation in OIC meetings, programs and events.”

The resolution passed by Council notes that the city of Oakwood, Wright Library and Oakwood Schools are “concerned about the current climate in Oakwood and throughout America with regard to matters of diversity, and various forces in place that cause widespread tension and conflict throughout our cities, states and country.” In recent months some community and civil rights advocates have raised allegations of racial profiling in traffic stops conducted by the city’s police force – a charge city leaders vigorously deny – and some protestors in marches inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement have alleged that minorities are not welcome in Oakwood, which city leaders also dispute.

“The city of Oakwood treasures diversity in every form and fashion, and fully supports the mission of the OIC,” City Manager Norbert Klopsch said. “We are eager to join in the work of this new citizen-driven organization and to participate with our citizens and other community leaders in the development of educational programs and projects, communication initiatives, and events that align with the mission and purpose of the OIC.”

Wright Library Director Kristi Hale told city leaders that the OIC was closely aligned with ongoing civic forums conducted by the library, including nine anti-racism events sponsored by the library. “We’re looking for ways to engage,” Hale told city lawmakers.

Former Oakwood Mayor Judy Cook, who is also involved in the organizing effort, told Council members that “our population has not grown in numbers, but has increased in diversity,” adding that the formation of the OIC “opens the door to diversity and learning.”

“We are conscious that inclusion takes more than good thoughts,” Cook noted. “More and more of our citizens want assurances that Oakwood is welcoming. We will find a common voice heard by all.”

With the Board of Education expected to adopt a similar measure supporting formation of the OIC at its monthly meeting next week, Oakwood Schools Superintendent Dr. Kyle Ramey said “we certainly have continued to become more and more diverse. I think it makes us stronger.”

The OIC will spend the remainder of this year developing the organization and leadership team and building the membership. The coalition is seeking a volunteer to obtain a 501(c) (3) status for the organization and a volunteer to build and maintain an OIC website.

Anyone interested in volunteering with the OIC is encouraged to contact Wright Library Director Kristi Hale at (937) 250-6824 or email hale@wrightlibrary. org.


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