Last week I had the honor of inducting three extremely deserving individuals into the Rockland County Civil and Human Rights Hall of Fame.
Barbara S. Williams, Virginia Norfleet and Paul Adler were selected from a list of distinguished nominees selected by the Human Rights Commission for making significant contributions to the advancement of equality, diversity, human rights and civil rights in Rockland County.
These people have dedicated their lives to achieving equality; they have stood for the marginalized and have paved the way for equal rights for all local residents. This year’s inductees have acted on their convictions and truly made a difference here in Rockland.
They have done this through perseverance and always looked for positive ways to improve our community. They truly understand what needs to be done and the importance of recognizing the good when it is right in front of them. We recently had a tragedy here in Rockland, an 8-year old boy drowned while boating on the Hudson River.
Overwhelmingly people on social media shared comments of love, sympathy and understanding of this sad event. Unfortunately, there were also a few stupid and hateful comments that were represented by some to be the voice of Rockland.
I ask you, if we constantly focus on the negative, how will others see us? How will we see ourselves?
We must emulate what these honorees have done. We must continue to call out hate when we see it but we must also celebrate and take great pride in the moments where we stand together. To do any less is more telling than the hate some seek to exploit.
We have stood shoulder to shoulder in solidarity against evil time and again, after the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, after fires were set at a Rabbi’s home in New City, after the Tree of Life shooting in Pittsburgh.
Rockland is not a county of hate but rather the most diverse county in New York. I stand by the following Rockland is the greatest county in the state. To paraphrase President Ronald Reagan, “we are the shining county on the hill.” Why? Because we have the most amazing and accepting people right here in our community. Let us all pause and celebrate that fact and focus on the positive.