Good evening. I bring you greetings from Mayor Adler, who is out of the city, my colleagues, Council Members Flannigan and Renteria, and City Manager Cronk. I would like for employees of the city of Austin to stand, so that we can give them a hand to thank them for the work they do for the people of Austin.
It is great to be with you tonight to celebrate the 53rd Annual DeWitty / Overton Freedom Fund Banquet.
The NAACP has been a fierce advocate for the rights guaranteed under the constitution for “we the people.” After joining the local branch, I became a life member in 1983. I continue to support the organization with my financial contributions and encourage you to do the same.
On February 12, 2019, the national organization will celebrate 110 years of advocacy. The NAACP was founded because White and Black folk believed that all people are created equal. It is the institutions, systems, policies, procedures and practices that are created unequally or not applied with equity.
We, the collective “we”, face so many challenges and unknowns in our country, state, and city. It is important for people to work together as allies, now more than ever before. We must find space between the extremes to do the hard work of listening, compromise and collaboration for the betterment of our community. We must provide ways to allow “we the people” to trust and have confidence in those who are elected to serve.
Being a part of this gathering, honoring the public service of Arthur B. DeWitty and Volma Overton, gives me hope. I believe the spirit of those who fought for civil rights and equality for all will continue as long as we remember our collective history.
As I end my term on the Austin City Council, I hope that the conversations we have had around “Undoing Racism,” “Undoing White Supremacy,” and “Beyond Diversity,” will continue. I hope those conversations will be the lens though which policies are made. I hope the relationships we have cultivated will continue to empower the larger community to be intentional about the inclusion of different ideologies, cultures, and ethnic groups in the decision-making process. Most importantly, I hope we will focus on equity in our city by being intentional about including more people at the table, especially those who are being “left behind.”
The goal must be to make our fair city better for everyone.
As we start a new year, remember that members of the diaspora are resilient, strong and nimble even though disconnected. Especially disconnected in this city. We must commit to showing up and working to facilitate reconciliation where there is strife and do it with civility and respect.
I close with a quote from one of the most intentional and fearless leaders of my lifetime, The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – “Don’t worry about being safe, political or popular, nor make decisions out of cowardice, expediency, or vanity; but simply take actions your conscience tells you are right.”
I thank you for allowing me to serve.