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Adkins: Common vision is needed

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Martinsville Mayor Kim Adkins said she thinks Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech remains “very relevant” today.

The part of the speech that resonates most with her is King’s call for entire communities to come together at the table to develop a common vision to move the communities forward, she said.

Since King gave his speech, Adkins said, Martinsville and Henry County, the region and the entire nation “have made a huge amount of progress” in race relations.

Problems between races are “not at the magnitude they were 50 years ago,” she said. But “some racial tensions still exist” locally, she acknowledged.

As mayor, Adkins said she has encouraged the development of a “racial inclusion plan” in which “everyone has a stake and vested interest in community affairs.”

But the community apparently “wasn’t interested in going in that direction,” she said. She blamed misunderstandings in discussions about the mission of a proposed human relations commission that did not come to fruition.

That effort eventually could be resurrected, she indicated.

As an example of what might be seen as renewed interest in efforts to improve race relations locally, Adkins mentioned a panel discussion on the issue, held at Patrick Henry Community College on Friday, in which she participated.

“Maybe this is a positive step” toward developing a racial inclusion plan, she said, adding that she hopes society reaches a point in which a person’s color no longer factors into any aspect of their lives.

However, racial problems will not completely go away, she predicted.

“There will always be racists in the world,” Adkins said. Yet based on what she has seen, she said most people want to be able to get along well with others who are different from themselves.


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