The Auburn Diversity Task Force will hold its second public meeting tonight at 5:30 p.m.

The task force, led by Ward 1 Councilwoman Connie Taylor and Ward 5 Councilman Steven Dixon, is one of four created by Auburn Mayor Ron Anders to tackle pressing issues in the community. 

Anders, Taylor and Dixon also pulled other members of the community onto the task force, representing the African American, LGBTQ+, Muslim, Jewish and special needs communities. 

Other members include Christine Bradshaw, former City Councilman Clemon Byrd, Anthony Brock, Pride on the Plains president Chad Peacock, Asim Ali of the Auburn Islamic Center, Samantha Bradshaw of the Exceptional Foundation of East Alabama, Mike Halperin, Brittany Branyon, and former mayoral candidate Brittany Cannon Dement, who is credited with raising the need to address diversity in the community during her campaign.

More members could be added to the task force tonight after attendees of the first meeting noted the lack of representation of immigrants and the Hispanic and Korean communities in Auburn.

At its first meeting, Anders indicated that the task force could become a permanent committee, while Taylor supported the idea of creating subcommittees. Other suggestions included diversity training for Auburn City Schools teachers and students, youth diversity events and other community events focusing on diversity. 

"There is no substitute for meaningful interaction," Ali said at the first meeting. "You can't watch a YouTube video and all of the sudden (it) teaches you how people are. You've got to be purposeful about how you live your life when it comes to meeting others."

At the first meeting, Bradshaw also introduced a mission statement, purpose and suggested action sheet. The mission statement reads: "Our mission is to collaborate with the City of Auburn, Police Department, Sheriff Department, Churches and Citizens of Auburn. To organize, to build trust with the community, and to build a strong coalition. We can organize social media to help identify suspects(s) [sic]."

One suggested amendment to the mission statement was the addition of Auburn City Schools, while Halperin conveyed that the inclusion of "churches" was problematic.

"In terms of diversity, if we're thinking about that as a committee, perhaps we should broaden our view right there that this community is made up of many faith groups," said Halperin, who also noted that there are members of the community who are atheist or agnostic. "I think that any mission statement, we should try to broaden it as much as we can to be as inclusive and respectful of the richness of differences in the Auburn community."

The Diversity Task Force will hold its second meeting tonight at 5:30 p.m. in the City Meeting Room at 122-B Tichenor Ave.

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