Progress in Struggle for Racial Justice at the Wayne County Fair

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August 26, 2016

Thank you to all supporters who have joined us in the struggle for racial justice in Wayne County – we are making progress! In what appears to be an encouraging step towards a more tolerant and inclusive atmosphere at the Wayne County Fair this year, a reconciliatory meeting took place this week.  Mr. Pete Armstrong, Secretary, was joined by two other members of the Wayne County Fair Board as well as Juanita Greene, President of the NAACP and Andries Coetzee, Pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church. At this meeting, the Fair Board agreed to extend a vendor’s contract to both the NAACP and Westminster Presbyterian Church, effectively allowing them representation at the fair!  Mr. Armstrong also communicated verbally that they have been in contact with specific vendors who sell the Confederate Flag and have asked them not to display the flag outside their booths. This is a request that he was willing to put in writing to Ms. Greene. These concessions are huge wins for those fighting in the movement to uphold a welcoming family atmosphere at this event!

This meeting was precipitated by the Wooster/Orrville NAACP and Westminster Presbyterian Church publishing a Press Release on Monday afternoon expressing the view that a gross injustice was committed in the handling of the Vendor Application for a #BlackLivesMatter booth at the Wayne County Fair.  Since the publication, the release has garnered massive attention, with more than 13,000 people reached and 73 shares on Facebook.

Commenting on the meeting, Ms. Greene stated:

“This does not eliminate our position regarding the Confederate Flag, but it is a step in the right direction.  As a movement we are maintaining our position that the Wayne County Fair should be a place of welcome to all people, and therefore enforce a policy similar to that of the Ohio State Fair that was implemented in 2015, that prohibits the display and sale of Confederate Flags and/or Confederate Flag merchandise.  By asking vendors not to display the Confederate Flag, the Fair Board shows that it is reaching out to our movement and are willing to meet us halfway.  Our goal is not to disrupt the community or encourage people to boycott the fair, only to make people more aware of the growing diversity of people in Wayne County.”

Echoing Ms. Green’s sentiments, Andries Coetzee, Pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church says:

“As a community of faith we certainly feel that this more cooperative tone of conversation is a step in the right direction.  For a church that strives to be “Intentionally Inclusive,” Westminster desires to meet people where they are on life’s journey; therefore, we welcome the Fair Board’s conversation with vendors asking them not to display the Confederate Flag.”

Applauding the actions taken so far, The Westminster Presbyterian Church urges our larger Wayne County community to become more aware of the perspectives of our ethnic minorities so we all can feel that our voices are being heard and in doing so, uphold the common good.

The Wooster/Orrville NAACP and Westminster Presbyterian Church are looking forward to being part of the Wayne County Fair this year as we build a more inclusive society for all.  Please stop by our booth as we welcome engaging with everyone, and through listening help build a community of welcome and respect!

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