Fifty years ago, on July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 landed the first men on the moon, accomplishing a monumental and unifying close to a turbulent and divisive decade. When astronaut Neil Armstrong stated, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” he eloquently summed up the human experience – that we are all one on planet earth.
In the years since, our nation has experienced some forward movement in areas of equality and opportunity. However, over the past 20 years, social media and our political parties have been dividing us into special interest voting blocks. Instead, we should be celebrating what makes us uniquely American, our ability to blend together races, religions, countries of origin, and cultures. We cherish what makes each of us special, while sharing a common goal of a better life for all.
Over the years, Town&Gown has covered the community mostly from the perspective of an arts, lifestyles, and entertainment-based magazine. Rarely have we delved into the arena of hard news or political commentary. This edition is a little different.
Our cover story, “Let’s Talk,” addresses a topic that is often very hard for people to discuss: race. Since the fatal shooting of Osaze Osagie, a young African American man, by local police on March 20, our community has been presented with a challenge. This monumental event has been viewed differently by many members of our community. How do we come together to better understand the way daily life, including justice, economic opportunity, and inclusion, is viewed by persons of color within the Centre Region?
There are differences in perspective that many white people do not understand. Equally, persons of color have become frustrated after expressing viewpoints and possible solutions to issues that seem to be ignored. Communication must improve before progress can be made in bringing people closer together.
We started a conversation about what life is like as a person of color in Centre County. It is an opportunity to learn from members of our community about the struggles and triumphs that many in the community have not had an opportunity to share or read about before. It is important that all members of our community better understand one another and learn to communicate in a free and open manner on all issues concerning law enforcement, education, housing, employment, and politics.
Diversity is more than a slogan or a banner. Diversity is a state of mind and heart where all persons are welcomed, elevated, and encouraged to be part of the fabric of Centre County. We cannot reach this summit without first talking and, more importantly, listening to one another.
Please read and share this edition with friends and family. Let’s come closer together as a community by better understanding one another.
Bernard A. Oravec