Dear Editor:

A race relations symposium, co-sponsored by the Alcoa-Blount County NAACP, Blount County United (BCU) and various churches, recently concluded. Participants came to this gathering already galvanized by the extraordinary calls for racial justice rising as one across our country and around the world.

They were equally heartened by signs of change in community after community where hope had once been dimmed.

Two years ago, the governments of Blount County, Maryville and Alcoa, along with their respective law enforcement agencies, signed a Covenant for a Better Community to resolve potential conflict and eradicate bias, prejudice and hate. This agreement has been a positive step for our county, but more work awaits.

Meaningful and candid dialogue during the symposium shed light on the path to change. However, we must move beyond agreements and words. We are faced now with the moral imperative to act.

This imperative is still a deep challenge to individual and collective will. Contentment with “the way things are” has blinded many to the existence of systemic racism and its pernicious effects. By taking an unblinking look at the manifestation of racism in governmental, legal, educational, corporate and religious circles, the remedies will not be hard to find. Applying them in a spirit of collaboration, unified action and strong bonds of trust and partnership will help to build a new framework for justice.

Robert McClelland

Hunters Hill Boulevard

Maryville

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