Let's stand for respect

Aug 18, 2017

Once again we find ourselves in America reading about tragic violence at the hands of people in our country who do not respect others or who maintain a narrow and bigoted view of the world.  We know that we are in a hyper-polarized political environment.  We know that to try to understand we need to listen to the views of others.  We also need to carefully consider what we individually and collectively stand for.

BCTC is a proud member, throughout our service region, of many business, social service, and non-profit agencies.  We share a mission of making the Bluegrass a better place to succeed in businesses, provide services, and improve lives.  We at BCTC struggle, along with other organizations, as to how to balance an environment of listening and learning with maintaining respect and welcoming differences.  Some say the focus should be on our similarities and I agree.  Still there are those who would only divide.  Those, we must stand against.

There is an issue right here in Lexington that has divided our city, as it has roiled other cities across the South.  That is the existence of statues that celebrate major figures of the Confederacy.  Yes, it is our history and to some represents fighting for a homeland.  We can learn from it, but we cannot turn from the terrible ravages of slavery on individuals and families with the consequences of that history still seen and felt by many even today.  We need to think hard about whether any part of that history should be celebrated.  I believe that most of us, no matter our historical or current perspective, agree that symbols of oppression do not deserve a place of prominence in our town square.  I offer to you a portion of the statement just released by Commerce Lexington, Inc., our region’s chamber of commerce.  I appreciate and agree with their stand.

Greetings Commerce Lexington, Inc. Members,

Over the past week, you have no doubt seen the situation that unfolded in Charlottesville, Virginia, and subsequent responses in other cities, such as Lexington.  Very quickly, focus turned to Confederate statues that sit in the center of our city….

After talking with our Executive Board, we felt strongly that to sustain and further strengthen our vibrant community, we must do all that we can to make Lexington welcoming for all.  As such, we have developed the following position statement in support of the Mayor and Urban County Council:

Commerce Lexington supports Mayor Jim Gray and the Urban County Council's efforts to move the Confederate statues away from one of the city's central gathering spots.  Lexington is a welcoming community.  This decision will help reinforce that all of Lexington, including downtown, is a place for all to feel comfortable and enjoy.  Outside influences that attempt to spread hate and bigotry are NOT acceptable and will not overpower the compassion and respect that we have for all segments of our community.  They will not prevail….

As we saw during last year's Leadership Visit to Charleston, South Carolina, how a community reacts to something like this will define that community for generations.  Let's make sure that we continue to build a Lexington that is open and welcoming for everyone.

I hope at BCTC, we will always stand on the side of our diverse and multicultural students, faculty, and staff and foster respect and learning every day.