Dear Friends,

Several weeks ago, as a result of the death of George Floyd, I reminded our CEOGC family that these are perilous times that require a level of empathy that has not been evidenced in our country since its founding. Unfortunately, issues of race continue to be at the forefront with the recent shootings by police of African Americans that have catalyzed human and civil rights protests around the world.

I believe that we are at a  pivotal time in our country’s history — are we now ready to embrace the ideal in word and deed that the Declaration of Independence affords us that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”? While the Founding Fathers did not include slaves, women, or almost any other ethnic group, isn’t it time that we do?

Each of us has an opportunity and responsibility to recognize that our individual contribution to the country’s well-being, especially in how well we treat each other, is important. Each day by our actions, we can choose to see our humanity in others; to care a little more, and to view others as people and not as stereotypes or people to be feared because of what we have been taught and not because of any personal experience. It’s too easy to treat individuals unkindly when we see them as “less than” and ourselves as “better than.”

I sincerely pray that we will be a better country in the years to come as a result of this historic moment in time. I commit myself and hope you will join me in helping to make it so.
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*Original post was written & posted 06/3/20

There have been many moments in the country’s history that have shaken it to its core. The recent pandemic is one such event, but the other, which has reverberated around the world, is the May 25th death of George Floyd at the knee of a Minneapolis police officer.

Our Board Chair, Kathryn Hall, made a comment to me this afternoon that silence is sometimes considered a form of agreement. So, in this moment in history, it is incumbent upon us to acknowledge that regardless of our skin color or ethnic background, or any other things that have been used to divide us, we are first and foremost human and deserve what the Constitution of the United States promises us, “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

I am writing to you because the issue of racism in America has caused the country and the world to take notice, and to, hopefully, finally address it in a meaningful way that leads to understanding and healing.

We make it our work every day as an agency to address the gaps that exist in our economic system. We show up for the people who need our services: some of our community’s most vulnerable children and families. No matter their background or their current circumstances, we exist to show them there is a future that can be different than their present.

That’s what we all want for the nation, too: a future that is better than our present. A future that is brighter, more equitable, and more just. We see it in the faces of the children we teach. Their future can be better than our present, but the work to make it so can’t wait.

Kindness, regardless of circumstance, is a start. Self-reflection, a willingness to have a conversation when we don’t understand and a commitment to do and be better is required.

We will continue to serve. We will continue to help. We will continue to learn.

Be kind, be well, and as always, be safe.

Sincerely,

Dr. Jacklyn Chisholm
President & CEO of The Council for Economic Opportunities in Greater Cleveland

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