Celebrate Diversity




A column by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin



            As we prepare for our state's 150th birthday and reflect upon our history, we have many wonderful people to be thankful for--people who have worked together to make West Virginia what it is today.

Our state was built by people of all different backgrounds--people like you and me--people with stories passed down from generation to generation. Whether it's the fine craftsman and resourceful laborers from Ireland, Scotland, Germany and Africa--the Swiss farmers who settled Helvetia--or the first settlers who found their ways along the Midland Trail, their stories speak volumes to our culture, history and traditions. The diverse West Virginia we enjoy today is a direct result of the unique people who once called our beautiful state, home.

I had the opportunity, this week, to join the Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs as well as minority advocates in the business, education and faith-based communities to celebrate diversity at the State Capitol. It was an opportunity to recognize the very things that make our state special and a chance to educate ourselves about beliefs and perspectives we might not otherwise be aware.

Each year, during the months of February and March, we celebrate the creativity and accomplishments of West Virginians whose lives and careers place them among the most notable historic figures. During Black History month, we reflect upon people like educator Booker T. Washington and civil rights leader Leon Sullivan. During Women's History month, we recall how women like Mildred Mitchell-Bateman changed our state and country for the better. From first time judges to legislators and educators, West Virginia owes much to the men and women who pursued their dreams and in the process opened doors for others to follow. We are a grateful state, benefitting from their accomplishments.

A rich, diverse society, not only promotes personal growth, it seeks to provide strong, balanced communities for our neighbors and our friends. Just as our forefathers did 150 years ago, I encourage every West Virginian to listen, learn and continue to share the ideas, beliefs and experiences that make each of us unique.

            We have 150 years of great advancements to be thankful for, and I encourage you to be proud of your family's heritage and that of your neighbors.    

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