Diminishing numbers and time constraints didn’t stop NAACP and other community members from getting in key questions before the April 5 City Council election.
With a diverse group of Columbia citizens in attendance at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People panel at the Second Baptist Church Tuesday evening, it wasn’t surprising that defining and increasing community diversity was the main question put before the candidates.
“Right now I see a ‘Me Tarzan, You Jane’ approach in the city,” said candidate Gayle Troutwine. “The world doesn’t fit into one kind of reality.”
Troutwine defined diversity as an atmosphere of accepting new definitions of life. In promoting diversity, she said she would start in her own home.
“Having a representation of the community in all areas,” was Laura Nauser’s definition of diversity. She said she didn’t have an answer on how to complete the task, but the first place she would go to find the answer would be the community.
Joseph Vradenburg defined diversity as having support in various segments of the community. He said the best way to promote diversity is to support it.
If elected, Vradenburg said he would vote to increase civil rights funding if the city could justify it. He also said if community members felt that the public libraries didn’t carry a diverse enough selection of books, he would take lists of ones the libraries should be carrying and work to get them purchased.
Mary Ratliff, president of the local and state NAACP, said this annual panel allows not only members of the NAACP to interact with candidates, but it also gives others in the community a chance to make an informed decision.
“I was happy to see such a diverse group attend the panel,” said Ratliff. “We are a community group involved in all community issues to make Columbia a better place to live, and it is important that we all work together to do so.”
Ratliff said what NAACP members really wanted to get out of Tuesday’s panel was to see what candidates were focusing on. She said the NAACP’s biggest focus is the achievement gap for African-American children.