Columbia wins City Cultural Diversity Award

Thursday, March 13, 2008 | 7:26 p.m. CDT; updated 11:45 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

COLUMBIA — Columbia was one of only four cities across the country to receive a City Cultural Diversity Award from the National League of Cities and the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials on Monday morning during the league’s annual Congressional City Conference in Washington, D.C.

The annual award was established in 1995 and is given to four cities that have developed programs to improve cultural diversity, according the the NBC-LEO Web site. Cities must apply for the award and are required to choose one program that demonstrates the community’s emphasis on cultural diversity. Questions on the application include “How does the program support cultural diversity in your community?” and “What lessons did your city or town learn that may be helpful for other communities that may wish to replicate your policy or program?”

Columbia chose the annual Columbia Values Diversity Breakfast and Columbia Values Diversity Awards. The concurrent events, which have been held for 15 consecutive years on the Thursday before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, attract thousands. The diversity awards are presented to residents who work for racial equality, individual dignity, understanding and solving problems though non-violence.

Mayor Darwin Hindman said both events are a “major celebration of diversity.”

“The events are well attended and well supported,” Hindman said. “The programs include music, singing, oration and dancing. Everyone walks away with a new appreciation of the value of diversity.”

Hindman also said the award is a point of pride for the city.

“The award is extremely important. It shows that we care about diversity and recognize how important it is to the community.”

The city’s application also included references to the work of the Human Rights Commission and the Office of Community Services, which sponsor the Let’s Talk Columbia series and a variety of other diversity programs.

Winning cities are selected from a pool of applicants and are grouped according to population, a city news release said. Columbia was the winner in the 20,000 to 100,000 population group. The other awards were presented to Enterprise, Ala., Alexandria, Va., and Phoenix.

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