Last week, I was both discouraged by our community and enormously proud of it regarding actions around activities held on Friday, June 19.
When the Chamber was asked by a group to communicate information regarding an event organized to support local businesses, the trouble began. The event was to be led by state senator and announced gubernatorial candidate Amanda Chase.
Although the Chamber is not so naïve to be unaware that the event had ulterior political motives and that Senator Chase is a highly controversial figure, we distributed what we were asked to. After all, Sen. Chase is an elected official with the right to campaign. The Chamber attempts to not show political partiality in any direction.
Shortly after publication, the Chamber and I personally began to receive scathing emails and comments on social media. Even after explaining that we were just staying consistent with our traditional efforts to communicate, without taking a stance on political events, some of the attempted smearing of the Chamber continued.
I will add at this point that the volume of negativity was not immense, but it did sting.
Now is where the pride begins. Rather than combat what many felt was an insensitively organized event on a special day with protest or antagonism, some in our community got busy to organize a positive affair.
Many pitched in to hold our community’s first Juneteenth celebration in Abbitt Park and, from all reports, it was extremely successful. Plans are to make it an annual celebration.
Kudos are due to the newly formed Appomattox for Equality group. Several times in the past I have indicated a wish that there was more interchange and interaction between black and white members of our local community, and this could be a great start. Here is hoping that a whole season of focus on reconciliation beginning each April 9 and running through June 19 will evolve.
Meanwhile, back to the visit by Sen. Chase. Sen. Chase stopped in various places of business and spoke with persons in charge to discuss hardships brought on by pandemic-oriented restrictions and the hope of more re-opening.
Her visits were then followed by a question and answer session at Bull Daddy’s Restaurant, attended by a number of local citizens.
The understanding by many that Sen. Chase has far right-wing views on many issues made many feel that scheduling her visit to Appomattox on Juneteenth was insensitive at best. I can sympathize with their analysis of the situation but the fact that no other event was scheduled at the time leaves some room for doubt.
When a candidate makes a visit to a community, there are several things at play. Those that are already ardent supporters will of course show up and cheer most anything that happens to rally for their person. Many, however, show up to learn and/or to present their issues to the potential future office holder.
Some of this group and others may wish to make their decisions of support or opposition based on direct interaction rather than by what has been fed to them by the media. Such interaction is a valuable part of our democratic republic and the Chamber will continue to communicate events that are part of it.
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