Founders of a community group organized after the Charlottesville riots in 2017, have been selected by the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce as Individual Diversity Champions for 2018. Willie and Pam Jones, Sue Rankin - White, and Ron Parts are the three key founders and original members of the community network called Unity in Community.
Unity in Community is focused on education and reduction of discrimination and segregation in the Lake Norman area. The primary vehicle is small groups of mixed race, gender and ethnicity who study history and share personal experiences related to discrimination and racial bias.
Following the Charlottesville riots and death of Heather Heyer in August 2017, local churches organized a prayer vigil in the Village Green in Davidson. At that event, individuals signed up to participate in discussions on racial issues. Joel Simpson (formerly Associate Pastor at Mt Zion United Methodist Church) along with Willie and Pam, Sue and Ron emerged as leaders and organized small mixed-race groups. The small groups meet regularly, and they have become a place of trust to share history and personal challenges.
Members talk frankly about institutional and individual racism. Larger scale events have been held that bring together citizens of differing races to hear speakers talk on related topics. They established committees that focus on Social Justice, Education, and Communications. The three Diversity Champions have taken the lead, built trust and continuity. Georgia Krueger, Executive Director of the Ada Jenkins Center in Davidson, has also been extremely involved with the group.
Current priorities include voter registration and the saving of Smithville, the oldest historically African American neighborhood at Lake Norman. After more education and an expansion of members, UiC will focus on solutions that will help close the racial divide and reduce poverty among minority residents.
Also recognized was Central Piedmont Community College whose Merancus Campus serves the north end of Mecklenburg County. CPCC’s commitment to workforce development and diversity has placed it at the forefront of efforts to address issues of economic mobility in the region.
Top Right Picture: Founding members of Unity in Community (UiC) receive the Individual Champions of Diversity Award from the Lake Norman Chamber. Pictured are: Willie and Pam Jones, Sue Rankin White, Chris Hailey, Ron Potts, and Bill Russell. Photo by John McHugh – Ocaid Photography.
Bottom Right Picture: CPCC’s Merancas Campus was cited by the Lake Norman Chamber as the nonprofit Diversity Champion for 2018. Pictured is Diversity Chair Chris Hailey, Clidell Conston, Mike Price, Nzingha Williams, Andrea Ambercrombie, William Kennedy, and Major Pat Brown – CPCC, along with Chamber President Bill Russell. Photo by John McHugh – Ocaid Photography.