WILMINGTON — Two United Way (UW) of Clinton County leaders met with county commissioners this week to see whether there’s something the organization and county can collaborate on with respect to the Black Lives Matter movement.
United Way of Clinton County Executive Director Amanda Harrison noted that the organization’s slogan is “Live United”. And United Way of Clinton County Board of Directors President Cheryl Roberts said her husband is black and her daughter biracial, and so it really impacts her and her family.
Harrison indicated she is interested in something that can make an impact. By way of examples, she mentioned perhaps a day of promoting black businesses in the county, or making sure people see there are a lot of positive male and female black role models in the community.
Roberts said United Way provides funds to two local projects that serve a lot of minority youth, namely Hot Hoops and Harvest of Gold. Clinton County Commissioners President Kerry R. Steed said the Board of Commissioners directs funds to Harvest of Gold, too.
During the appointment with commissioners, Roberts said the majority of time she is proud to live in Clinton County, but there are some things that have happened that she’s “not thrilled about” and the race issue is one of them.
“I’ve been married for almost 30 years, and frankly in 30 years I don’t know that a lot has changed in Clinton County, and that makes me very sad — for my husband, for other African Americans, for our children, for the biracial children,” said Roberts.
At one point, Roberts asked whether the courthouse lawn sign at the center of town could ever say “Black Lives Matter” — to proclaim the importance of Black Lives Matter and to show that the Board of Commissioners back the statement, she said.
“To me, as a voting citizen, that would make me feel good to know that gosh, these guys really do care, they’re listening, they understand that this is an issue,” she added. Later, Roberts said the commissioners “command a lot of respect,” adding that their involvement would demonstrate they realize racism is a huge issue.
She is interested in learning about related training and expectations within local law enforcement, and in fact has already met with the Wilmington police chief.
She stressed she is not saying there is something wrong with local law enforcement. When her husband has been pulled over for no good reason, it’s been outside Clinton County, said Roberts.
On Friday, the News Journal asked Commissioners President Steed whether he is hoping there’s something the county can collaborate on with United Way to raise awareness and show support regarding black lives.
Commissioners have offered to review and assess ideas that are brought forth, he said, and have directed the UW leaders to the county sheriff and judges who are in a better position to discuss the policies and procedures practiced in local policing and courts.
Steed also noted commissioners have earlier approved a permit for a June 27 rally against racism to occur on courthouse square.
During the meeting with the United Way leaders, Clinton County Commissioner Mike McCarty said he is pleased that the county’s insurer offers the use of a video system for preparing and training police officers for real life scenarios.
The commissioner recommends parents have discussions at home with their children about racism and intolerance. The hope is that intolerance wanes with every generation, McCarty added.
In addition, he said it’s not just a racial issue, but also a socio-economic issue, “especially locally.”
Not long after the meeting, McCarty contacted the Board of Commissioners’ legal counsel to see whether commissioners have a say regarding the Confederate battle flag being available for purchase at the Clinton County Fair, as occurred this month.
Clinton County Commissioner Brenda K. Woods said the discussion with the two United Way women gives commissioners the opportunity to think of things, and maybe come up with some ideas they hadn’t thought of before hearing the two talk.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.