CHELSEA: MLK Day marked with support of equality, diversity
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
By Leslie McGraw
For the past 10 years, Chelsea has held an annual commemorative event in honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This year, the focus was the anti-discrimination proclamation signed into existence in February, 2012.
The proclamation is a proactive stance by community members and leaders to address discrimination and equality. Organizers said it is not a reaction to any particular event or incident.
Joanne Ladio, one of the organizers of the event held Monday night at city hall, said diversity has cultural and economic benefits for the Chelsea community. “We are becoming a destination community,” she said.
Ladio believes the proclamation, which has five clauses of inclusion and a call to action for community leaders, sets an example and standard for the community. “This was all started by just a group of citizens,” she said.
The Martin Luther King Day holiday, signed into existence by President Ronald Reagan 30 years ago, also began with just a group of citizens.
About 75 community members, leaders, and visitors gathered Monday to express support, commitment, and re-affirmation of the proclamation. Attendees signed the framed border of the original proclamation as well as the guest book. Signatures of support will continue to be collected for the rest of the month.
Teen’s view of Chelsea’s proclamation
For 14-year-old Ananth Gosh, the best thing about the proclamation is that Chelsea’s leaders and members have signed it. “I liked the turnout,” Gosh said. “Someone is taking initiative.”
Gosh has seen a lot more diversity since he first came to Chelsea. Gosh, who is of Hindustan decent, has been mistakenly identified as Muslim in the past. He and his family lived in Ann Arbor for a few years and, although he liked the diversity, he witnessed and experienced “a lot of bullying.”
“I just sort of got used to it,” said Gosh. Eventually, however, this contributed to his family’s decision to move to Chelsea. In his only incident in the Chelsea community, he was bullied on the bus during his fifth-grade year. After a few months, his mom saw the change in him and asked what was going on. The kids on the bus had been singling him out and referring to him as a “kid terrorist.”
Once he told his mom, the situation was dealt with by school administration and within two weeks the bullying stopped.
Gosh also came out to the event to represent a community coalition he is a part of called SRSLY, which focuses on helping kids in grades 6 through 11 make positive choices about alcohol and substance abuse.
The project, which started in Chelsea in 2007, is directed by Reiley Curran. Curran, who is also the Director of Community Health Improvement at the Chelsea Community Hospital, is one of the original community leaders who signed the proclamation and in attendance on Monday’s event.
“This event, being held on during the celebration of the MLK Holiday, the inauguration, and the comments of inclusion during the inauguration, was a demonstration that Chelsea is well-committed,” said City Council Mayor Pro-tem Cheri Albertson.