The city of Paso Robles has formed a cultural diversity panel to address racism and help spark change.
“I will establish a panel of people, a mayor's panel to discuss real and perceived problems of racism in the city of Paso Robles,” Mayor Steve Martin said back on June 2 during a Paso Robles protest.
Fast forward to Monday and Mayor Martin is still vowing to address racism and has since created the panel.
“What we've lacked to this point is sort of a listening post a place where those expressions can be made meaningfully and can result in meaningful action,” Mayor Martin said on Tuesday.
The panel is made up of 13 community leaders from the Chief of Police to those who have lived their entire lives in the city like Niya Williams.
“I actually was able to found the Black Student Union at the high school in 2018 and so being on this panel is kind of an extension of my work there,” Williams said. “I’m hoping I can really create a positive impact on our community.”
One of her goals is to bridge the divide.
“Black people. People of color. Indigenous people, they're important in Paso Robles,” Williams said. “They're part of the fabric that makes our city so amazing and to not acknowledge the pain that racism has caused them is kind of invalidating their role in the city.”
Education she said is going to be a big part of it.
“Knowing what racism looks like, knowing what progressive change looks like, knowing what restorative justice looks like,” Williams said.
Besides panel discussions, the message will be spread in a variety of ways.
“Reaching out to the community through email, through surveys, having events that educate people,” Panelist, Sondra Williams, said.
She wants to develop more culture events.
“I can't even tell you the first time I've seen anything that had to do with culture. I've never seen a cookout in the park,” Sondra said.
The panelists said they’re ready to put in the work and tackle what’s ahead.
“The power is in the right now,” Sondra said.
“To be open. To be considerate. To be loving to your neighbors. That's really going to help make productive change and it's going to make Paso a more beautiful place,” Williams said.
The date of the first meeting has not been nailed down. The panel is anticipated to meet at least every quarter.
For more information about the panel click here.