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Raleigh Mayor Wants to Promote Racial Diversity

Posted December 1, 2006

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— After a year in which racial issues have clouded the city, Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said Thursday he wants to increase diversity and strengthen relations before problems arise.

Meeker said he wants diversity to become the strength of city and is starting his efforts with a unity breakfast that will include a panel discussion, a question-and-answer session, breakout sessions and a presentation -- all with the goal of building inclusiveness and identifying diversity challenges.

"The idea is to identify problems before they really get out of hand," Meeker. "Hopefully, there will be some issues of diversity that will be identified, and we can look at things we can be working on."

The Raleigh Fire Department came under scrutiny in early 2006 for what critics said was a lack of diversity. The department, they said, did not have minorities proportionate to the community's racial makeup.

During the summer, allegations of unfairness at the city's sanitation department also highlighted diversity issues.

Although many observers applaud Meeker's efforts, some black community leaders say talking is not enough.

"We are not doing a lot to promote that diversity within terms of how that creates opportunities for all of our citizens," said Keith Sutton, president of the Triangle Urban League.

Meeker said he believes the opportunities can start by talking about the city's challenges.

The breakfast is open to the public. It is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 9 at the McKimmon Center on the North Carolina State University campus. To register, contact the city of Raleigh Community Services Department at 919-831-6100.

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