HAMLET — Diversity is not just about black and white, it is about all the different cultures throughout the world.
That is the purpose behind the annual Diversity Banquet that is put on by the Richmond County Human Relations Council.
The meeting on Thursday discussed the beginning process of preparing for the banquet. The date for this year is set for April 26. The time for the event is currently 6 p.m. and the location is likely to be Cole Auditorium in Hamlet. Kim Harrington, vice chairperson, confirmed during the meeting that the auditorium would be available on this date.
The committee for the banquet will start meeting on Feb. 6 to get the event planning underway and to start looking for those interested in sponsoring the event.
The setting of the date and location sparked conversation about what to bring for entertainment.
“The whole purpose of the banquet is to teach cultural diversity through performing arts,” Harrington said.
In the past, the banquet has had music and talent of various styles to entertain those that have joined the celebration.
The council is looking into bringing a Gospel rap group along with a jazz band and potentially an opera singer, Harrington said.
Dr. Masoud Ahdieh, member of the council, also brought up the idea of having different cultures represented in Richmond County to wear clothing based on their heritage. The whole purpose of the banquet is to represent all cultures equally and bringing together these individuals to celebrate who they are.
“This event has gotten great reviews in the past,” Harrington said. “We’re wanting to continue that.”
Along with the banquet, the council discussed future ideas for the group in the realm of education. One of the main goals of the organization is to help educate the public and local government officials on diversity awareness. While the banquet is a highlight event, it is not the sole reason this council exists.
“We need to stay focused on what’s happening in human relations,” said Dot Bynum, chairperson.
Ahdieh brought up an interesting topic about how the honor roll, while starting out in elementary school with a diverse mix of children, was continuously growing in the higher grade levels to be predominately white and female.
“We’re losing males in the system,” Ahdieh said.
He suggested meeting with the Richmond County Board of Education to discuss the drop out rate amongst the male population in the county. The members of the council agreed with his concerns. Ahdieh also added that poverty and unemployment are two more issues that need to be addressed by the council and the county as a whole.
The council has been around since May 1999. It was originally made up of 24 members, but now consists of 16 members who are appointed by the Richmond County Board of Commissioners to promote equality and opportunity for all residents of the county.
The council currently has 14 members and are looking for two more individuals to join the team. Those interested in applying can submit an application to the council to be reviewed. For more information, you can contact the Richmond County Manager’s office at 910-997-8200.
The council is looking for men and women of all races and cultures to fill the positions.
“We’re not a race group,” Bynum said. “We work on all diverse issues — gender, education, poverty — we try and address all the issues that affect this county.”