Frustrations over being under-represented and experiences of racism were top concerns expressed by members of the Black and African American community at a meeting Thursday night.
Over 70 people attended the meeting hosted by the Chautauqua County I.D.E.A. Coalition. It is one of several being held in Chautauqua County with the Black and African American community as well as the Latino-Hispanic community.
I.D.E.A. Project Director Bishop Leecroft Clarke said the event went very well and that this may be one of the first times the community has really heard the Black community and how they feel, “Focusing on a lot of different segments, whether it’s elected officials, politicians, school system, housing, law enforcement, racism was another big topic that was talked about, discrimination, the underlying factor that germinates the conversation.”
Clarke said the coalition is holding the meetings as a way to understand the barriers that keep those from feeling fully part of the community.
He said the next step is to prioritize all the concerns by the community into categories that will be taken to a focus group of 10 to 15 individuals, “And then we’re going to do a physical interview with each of those candidates and get their stories and more details. And then we’re going to put together all of the concerns relative to that topic, and put together the story, develop some solutions; and then work with some coalition members relative to that topic to see if we can utilize the solution that we’re giving them in the system to better serve the community.”
The I.D.E.A. Coalition will hold another public meeting April 20 to begin the prioritization steps. Clarke said this is a 12 month process that will start all over again in 2024.
The I.D.E.A. Coalition, which stands for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility, was founded in 2022 with the goal of making Chautauqua County a place where everyone belongs and has opportunities to thrive, especially those who have been historically marginalized.
The next south county community meeting will be for the Latino/Hispanic Community and will take place at 6:00 p.m., Thursday, March 2 at Love Elementary School.
For more information, visit https://www.uwayscc.org/ideacoalition
EDITOR’S NOTE: As a point of transparency and disclosure to our audience, United Way of Southern Chautauqua County is a corporate underwriter for WRFA and has provided a financial contribution for the general operations of the station within the past year. Funding we receive for General Operations is not used to fund our coverage of local news in the community. That is only made possible through a Community Service Grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
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