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Russellville promotes race amity June 12

The City of Russellville adopted a resolution during its June 6 meeting to declare June 12, 2022, be celebrated in Russellville as Race Amity Day, and “to urge all citizens of Russellville to take cognizance of this event and participate fittingly in its observance.”

Race Amity Day, observed nationally for more than 100 years, and in the Shoals and Franklin County for the first time this past year, was observed Sunday by a small group that gathered at the Russellville Public Library, in connection with Race Amity Day in the Shoals. A group also assembled and participated at the Florence-Lauderdale Public Library.

The program was a Zoom call panel discussion led by leaders of the three major Bail Out organizations in the state – located in Huntsville, Birmingham and Montgomery – that have spent the past year studying the Alabama jail system and what can be done to improve its operations and outcomes.

The Rev. Charles Dale, assistant director of Race Amity Day for the Shoals, organized Russellville’s participation. He said the coalition is made up of groups that seek to address the remaining issues of racism in the area.

“Race Amity Day has an overall mission of cultivating cooperation and friendship among all people, with the cultivation of racial amity as its key tool and end goal,” explained Dale, who noted that “amity” is another word for “friendship.”

Dale expressed a wish for the event to help raise awareness and inspire and bring about change.

One of the attendees at the Russellville gathering, Terra Foster, executive director for the Alabama NAACP, explained friendships are key to achieving change.

“Race amity is an incredible endeavor, and for the Alabama NAACP to be in coalition with so many counties and cities throughout the Shoals area, we are motivated now more than ever to establish friendships that reach a broad scope of individuals and organizations throughout the state of Alabama,” Foster said.

Foster elaborated on the importance of friendships in accomplishing positive change.

“Friendships are powerful, and they truly bring about measurable change,” she said. “We don’t establish friendships and achieve measurable change by ‘making’ someone do a thing. We establish friendships and achieve measurable change by walking this way in our daily lives. Leading by example so others will want to follow should be our No. 1 goal.”

Dale said it’s time to remember what’s important.

“It’s time we recognize that we need to come together and bond as neighbors and friends,” he said. “As the scripture says, ‘Love thy neighbors as thyself’ – no matter what race or color. That’s a declaration made by God.”