With just a week remaining in February, the Clark County Council on Tuesday evening unanimously approved a proclamation in support of Black History Month, with this year’s theme being “Black Resistance.”
Yolanda Frazier, president of the NAACP Vancouver branch, accepted the proclamation on behalf of the organization. Frazier was unable to attend the council meeting in person but did join the meeting remotely.
“It is with the utmost respect and honor that I accept this proclamation,” Frazier told the council. “I want you all to know how important tonight is… We, as the African American diaspora communities, we don’t just celebrate Black history in the month of February. We acknowledge each other and all of our communities throughout each and every day, throughout each and every day of the week of the month and of the year.”
Frazier said the proclamation showed how different communities can come together and join forces to bring about equity.
The final version approved by the council was significantly revised from the draft submitted by the NAACP prior to the council’s Feb. 1 meeting. At that meeting, Council Chair Karen Bowerman and Councilor Gary Medvigy said the resolution needed to be rewritten to make it less “combative” and “more uplifting.”
The council’s decision to change some of the language in the original draft was met with sharp criticism. However, Medvigy said it isn’t unusual for the council to revise and rewrite drafts of proclamations submitted by outside organizations.
Several sections were removed from the final draft, including one stating “how African Americans have resisted historic and ongoing oppression, in all forms, especially the racial terrorism of lynching, racial pogroms and police killings, since the nation’s earliest days.”
Also, the original proclamation had called upon citizens to pay attention to modern-day racism, biases, and prejudices that negatively impact Black members in the community.
Also removed was a section stating racism has led to the denial and eradication of African American history within schools and educational institutions, including critical race theory. The first draft also stated in order to provide more accurate teachings, “Black people have historically embarked upon self-determination, mutual aid and social support initiatives to bring and sustain our stories of slavery and survival within the world.”
A new section was added, which reads: “Clark County is proud to honor the history, contributions, and achievements of the Black community locally, nationally, and globally. We remain committed to honoring diversity, equity, inclusion, and mutual respect as the fundamental principles of the county government, and work to promote these core values throughout our community.”
The draft and final proclamations are available at https://clark.wa.gov/councilors/clark-county-council-meetings by clicking on the links for the Feb. 1 and Feb. 21 meetings.