diversityMADISONVILLE, Ky. (5/12/19) — Concerned Citizens Society held the first race relations roundtable meeting at the Madisonville Community College this spring.

Concerned Citizens Society president Bill McReynolds explained the purpose of the meeting was to bring several top individuals and leaders in the community together. The invitation only March event was represented by various industries, professions churches and organizations.

“It’s 2019, and to hold a meeting focused on building strong race relations with important entities and individuals in the community, is decades overdue,” he said. “This was the time to invite some of the right people to have a seat at the table, at the right time.”

McReynolds said although the meeting did not include each caring individual or entity to take a seat at the roundtable, he is confident the coalition is looking forward to building even stronger relationships around the Hopkins County community.

Following the race relations roundtable, members of the Concerned Citizens Society, NAACP and concerned members of the black clergy from the Madisonville/Hopkins area, decided to form a coalition April 25, officially known as the African American Coalition of Hopkins County.

“Although both the Concerned Citizens Society and the NAACP are two separate organizations with their own individual concerns, and each clergy member has their own respective church, all of us share many of the very same concerns that affect our community either directly or indirectly,” McReynolds said. “It only made sense to be represented as a coalition, when working together for the betterment of our community.”

The coalition has held several spinoff meetings with many of the various entities that were represented at the roundtable including Baptist Health, city of Madisonville, Hopkins County Board of Education, area law enforcement agencies, First United Bank, Hopkins government officials, the local Chamber of Commerce and others.

“The Coalition is bringing together groups and individuals to increase communication and break down stereotypes,” said coalition member Rev, Glenda Wade, pastor of Bethel Outreach Ministries.

She senses alliances had less contact before, and they are currently working to build stronger relationships.

Fellow coalition member Rev. Demetrius Russell, Pastor of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, stated, “The African American Coalition will provide focus and direction for the frustrations of African Americans in Hopkins County concerning disparities across the board. The coalition has made strides to connect with city and county officials, employers and others. With community support, changes will take place. For years, black leaders and clergy have preached equality and unity, but we challenge our Caucasian brothers and sisters to do the same. To acknowledge the issues in hopes of encouraging their parishioners to embrace building bridges. Then, we can truly make Madisonville and Hopkins County the best city and county on earth.”

McReynolds believes community unity begins with truth, respect and understanding.

It’s about people who really care about our community being able to sit down together at the table to have productive and constructive open dialogue on the things that matter. I think all of us are concerned about our future, and the future of our children and grandchildren in this community.

The next race relations roundtable meeting has been scheduled next month, McReynolds noted. The roundtable meetings, not open to the public, will be held each quarter, or four times per year, in order to keep everyone connected on race relations as the community moves forward.

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