In recent weeks, there have been hosted discussions and meetings, as well as dialogue on social media, regarding race relations, inclusivity, and moving our community forward. As the mayor of Macomb, I have been involved in the meetings hosted by the NAACP and others, and I have personally met with many of our community's leaders and residents.
This has led to the coming together of individuals from within our community and from the University to begin the process of healing and to start a long-term sustainable dialogue.
Recently, several individuals representing our Macomb and WIU community gathered to plan next steps. This is just the beginning, and certainly will not be the end of what we can do – and what we will do – proactively as a community to ensure that all individuals know they are welcome here and that they belong here.
WIU Professor Emeritus J.Q. Adams, a foremost authority in nonviolent communication and cultural diversity, served as the lead facilitator for a workshop held on August 1 for MAEDCO members, Macomb Area Chamber of Commerce members, and invited guests. The workshop was held at the Macomb Arts Center in downtown Macomb. There are several individuals who expressed their desire to make amends so that we can come together as a unified collective to ensure a peaceful and civil community for all.
According to Dr. Adams, the session was an opportunity to trade and maintain dialogue without shame or blame, as well as to recognize the feelings and beliefs of others and make meaningful connections. It was a time for reconciliation and growing together as a community.
We are continuing to work together with the NAACP of McDonough County and many others to have comprehensive and sustained discussions regarding race relations in our community, and our business and community members must be involved so we can begin the healing.
Following the session for business owners and employees, a two-hour session will be held on campus after the start of the school year for students and others, an additional two-hour session will be held at a later date for the greater Macomb community, and then another session where all groups will come together for dialogue.
Again, just the beginning.
How do we ensure and maintain a continued sense of belonging? We must demonstrate this in every intentional way, and these sessions and retreats, and our ongoing dialogues, are just the beginning.
We must work together to encourage a respectful, civil, supportive, and peaceful community.
Mike Inman is the Mayor of Macomb.
The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Western Illinois University or Tri States Public Radio.
Diverse viewpoints are welcomed and encouraged.