Human Relations Council

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The Beginning.......

On Friday, January 18, 1963, North Carolina Governor Terry Sanford created the Good Neighbor Council to help ease racial tensions in the state as a result of civil rights struggles and integration issues. Thirty-seven North Carolina cities joined Governor Sanford's efforts and birthed a local Good Neighbor Council. The City of Greenville was one of those thirty-seven communities.

On Thursday, February 10, 1972, Mayor S. Eugene West and the City Council adopted Ordinance No. 382. The Ordinance dissolved the existing Good Neighbor Council; and, the Greenville Human Relations Council (GHRC) was established. Since its inception, 51 years ago, the work of this citizen-driven Council has evolved significantly.

The GHRC was given a charge and continues to:

  • Promote understanding, respect, and goodwill among all ethnic groups in the city;
  • Promote equality of opportunity for all citizens;
  • Provide channels of communication among all ethnic groups;
  • Encourage the employment of qualified people of all ethnic groups;
  • Encourage youth to become better trained and qualified for employment opportunities;
  • Hold such meetings, as the Commission may deem necessary or proper, to assist in carrying out its functions; and,
  • Make recommendations to City Council for action, it deems necessary, for the continuance of harmony among racial and ethnic groups in the city.

The Greenville Human Relations Council's Mission is to serve as an advocate for all people in pursuit of human and economic relationships; to promote activities, education, and programs which enhance human dignity, equal opportunity, mutual respect and harmony among the many different residents of Greenville. And, the Vision is for an inclusive community where trust, acceptance, fairness, and equity are community norms.

The work and focus of the Council are based on the mission and vision statements; the initiatives and their components; and, the responsibilities. To accomplish their work, the Council depends on:

  1. Internal Work Groups are groups primarily comprised of Human Relations Council members and city staff, who collaborate on coordinating events, projects, and activities.
  2. External Work Groups are groups comprised of both Council members and community members who share information and collaborate on projects related to shared goals and objectives.
  3. The Coordinator, the Human Relations' Council staff liaison oversees and coordinates activities and all events. The staff liaison works with the Council and members of the community to accomplish the Council goals.

In the Greenville Human Relations Council's effort to recognize and award those individuals and organizations who make a difference - those who are passionate about their causes

and are dedicated and committed to our community, the Best-Irons Humanitarian Awards were birthed in 1992 in honor of Dr. Andrew A. Best and Dr. Malene G. Irons. Drs. Best and Irons were co-recipients of the award that year.

In 2011, the Council created additional categories to the Best-Irons Awards Program and renamed it ‘The Human Relations Council Annual Awards Program’. The additional categories are: Community Service Awards (Youth, Adult, and Organization); Distinguished Inclusive Community Award; and, the Lifetime Achievement Award.

For half a century, the Greenville Human Relations Council has established and implemented a number of initiatives, events, and programs for engaging and bringing the City's diverse community together to build trusting and sustainable relationships.

The Inclusive Community Initiative is comprised of programs and activities that provide opportunities for the community to not only embrace the city's diversity; but, also provide occasions for the community to build new relationships.

In August of 2005, the Greenville Youth Council was established by City Council. The purpose of this Council is to empower Greenville/Pitt County youth to become actively involved in the community and bring awareness to issues that concern youth. Youth Council members have the skills and knowledge to make positive contributions and change. The Council consists of high school students in Greenville and Pitt County. Members of the GHRC serve as Advisors to the Greenville Youth Council. Former City Council member and Pitt County School Board member, the Honorable Mildred Council and current Mayor Pro-Tem, the Honorable Rose Glover, were very instrumental in the establishment of the Greenville Youth Council.

In 2007, the City of Greenville joined the National League of Cities "Inclusive Communities Campaign", reaffirming the City's commitment to sustain a community in which the dignity of every individual and diversity is respected. Activities and events promoting the City's commitment towards building an inclusive community are: appropriate signage placed at key gateway corridors of the City; a multilingual welcoming marquee at the airport; and, the city's annual inclusive community breakfast held in September.

On Thursday, May 28, 2015, the Connecting People: Planting Seeds to Dismantle Racism Subcommittee was established. The Subcommittee's Mission is to bring people together from all walks of life; to gain understanding through dialogue concerning the challenges of racism; and, planting seeds of change by building community; and, the Vision is connecting people matters to dismantle racism. This Subcommittee collaborates with various agencies and organizations, educational institutions, law enforcement, court system, the faith-based community, and community members to discuss barriers to racial and economic equity.

The most recent dialogue hosted by the Council and the Connecting People: Planting Seeds to Dismantle Racism Subcommittee was July 2020. This dialogue sparked lively and productive insight. With the question: "What does racial equity look like to you?", four (4) Task Forces were created - each with a mission to work towards racial equity in 1) Education; 2) Business & Economic Opportunities; 3) Law Enforcement; and 4) Criminal Justice. This project is almost complete. Our aim is to present the final report and recommendations to the City Council in the forthcoming months.

The City's first GAME P.L.A.Y event was held on Wednesday, November 14, 2018 at the South Greenville Recreation Center. GAME P.L.A.Y was developed by Co-creators Messrs. Gera

Miles and Dion Dail. The purpose of GAME P.L.A.Y is to develop positive communication, relationships, and trust between youth and law enforcement. GAME P.L.A.Y provides those opportunities.

The month of April is celebrated and observed as Fair Housing Month. During the month and throughout the year, the Greenville Human Relations Council, the Greenville Area Property Managers Association, and the Greenville Housing Authority provide training for rental and property managers/landlords. In addition, the Greenville Housing Authority and the City of Greenville provide education to residents interested in becoming a first-time homeowner.

Going forward, the Council will continue to be ever present and cognizant of the issues and concerns of the day. The Human Relations Council appreciates the support of our City Council and awaits future deliberations and implementations for the benefit of all Greenville, North Carolina residents. We strive for each person in our community to "Find Themselves In Good Company".