By Kendall McGee | June 12, 2020 at 5:39 PM EDT – Updated June 12 at 7:06 PM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – As Wilmington caps off a second week of civil rights demonstrations, signs of change are beginning to come about.
Earlier in the week, New Hanover County Manager Chris Coudriet announced the establishment of a new department focused on making the community a more inclusive, diverse and equitable place to live and work. The county is looking to hire a chief diversity and equity officer to oversee the office.
The department will weigh in on county policy, budgets and hiring practices.
“This is on the forefront, we’re being pushed and I’m glad we’re being pushed. Obviously we needed it and I’m excited to be part of the catalyst and hopefully this will be part of the change we want to see. Because its long overdue,” said county commission chair Julia Olson-Boseman. “We really have to take a look at ourselves and ‘Do we have any prejudices in hiring?’ and we do… We have got to stop. We have to take an intentional effort and that’s what we’re doing by creating this position. So what it will do is have training and that training will also go over to the sheriffs department so we want to make sure they have proper training for sensitivity and diversity and social justice.”
The office will spearhead initiatives like bias training for county employees and deputies, creating a better workplace culture and supporting minority owned businesses. The chief diversity and equity officer will also work with area nonprofits, churches and institutions to close gaps in health, wealth and education for under-represented populations.
“We have got to do more for racial and social justice in our community. So we recognize that and we want to be on the forefront of it,” said Boseman.
Boseman co-chaired the 1898 Wilmington Race Riot Commission in 2006 when she served in the state senate. Recent petitions have criticized the way the committee’s recommendations have been implemented and pointing out items that never came to fruition.
Fourteen years after the commission released its 500 page report, Boseman acknowledges there’s still plenty of work to do.
“It was very enlightening for me to see, you know, We have a rich history of racism in this community,” said Boseman. “Lots of things have not been done. And it’s going to take this type of movement to get things done.”
The items not ticked off the list of recommendations further emphasize the importance of creating policies that lift up minority businesses, overhauling hiring practices and making sure county employees are prepared to serve their community.
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