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Kingston lawmaker slams city officials for failing to include any mention of the black community during anniversary event

May 20, 2022 1:00 am

Patricia R. Doxsey is reporting for the Daily Freeman Kingston Common Council Majority Leader Rita Worthington has called for a public apology for the lack of any reference to the role of black people in the city’s history during its recent 150th-anniversary celebration. Mayor Steve Noble May 18, acknowledged the failure and called for a task force “committed to correcting the record and telling the inclusive story that Kingstonians deserve." In a “letter of disappointment," Worthington said she was struck during the anniversary event by the lack of any mention of black Americans, or their contributions to the city. “More than any other group in this country’s history, black Americans have served generation after generation, in an overlooked but vital role: without idealistic and patriotic efforts of black Americans our democracy would likely look very different,” Worthington said in the letter. She said at the May 13 celebration at City Hall, there were displays of 19th-century archival documents, guest speakers and historical re-enactors who spoke about the contributions made by various ethnic groups, including the Italians, Irish and English, but there was no mention of the contributions by African Americans. “Unfortunately, through omissions, downright errors, and inaccurate interpretations, not everyone enjoys the perks of civic belonging or gets a fair shake in historical accounts,” Worthington wrote. “African Americans built the plantations of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and likely the railroads and brickyards that run through the City of Kingston." In a statement, Noble admitted the city failed to include mention of African-American contributions to the city’s history. He said Worthington was not the only person to express disappointment over the omission. “I not only understand this disappointment and agree that the program overlooked black experiences, as well as our area’s Indigenous history, I see this moment as an important call to action,” Noble said. Noble has asked the director of the city’s arts and cultural affairs to help convene a task force to examine and correct the record. Read the full story in the Daily Freeman.