Community and university took a joint stand against hatred and bigotry with the kickoff of the Not In Our Town initiative in Oxford.
Oxford Mayor Kate Rousmaniere, along with Miami University President Gregory Crawford and his wife, Renate, shared the reading of the pledge during the Community Picnic on Aug. 31 and encouraged everyone to sign a banner in support of the Not In Our Town effort.
The effort is a response to recent local incidents of intimidation as well as those that have occurred nationally, according to Rousmaniere.
“During 2016 and 2017, the university and local community were impacted by acts of racism. These acts included targeted graffiti and property damage,” she said. “As a response to these situations, members of the university and local community began to explore ways to combat these issues.”
After learning about Not In Our Town initiatives between the city of Bowling Green and Bowling Green State University, “we were inspired to become a part of this movement,” she said.
The Not In Our Town mission is to guide, support and inspire people and communities to work together to stop hate, address bullying, and build safe and inclusive communities for all, according to officials.
Oxford City Council member Edna Southard pointed to a newly-erected banner over High Street that reads “Love Not Hate-Oxford” and other city banners saying “Welcome to Oxford” in 16 languages as examples of Not In Our Town efforts.
“Several positive initiatives are happening in Oxford in response to recent events. We live in a community that is stepping forward to speak up against racism, anti-Semitism, and all forms of bigotry,” she said. “There are not enough ways to speak out against bigotry.”
The Not In Our Town effort in Oxford is coordinated by a subcommittee made up of community and University volunteers who have been tasked to help move the effort forward.
The national Not In Our Town movement was launched in 1995 growing as a result of a PBS documentary that highlighted the efforts of Billings, Mont., residents who stood up for their neighbors after a series of hate crimes.
The Not In Our Town campaign has grown into a diverse grassroots movement that has inspired hundreds of communities in the U.S. and around the world to take action against hate.
The ‘Not In Our Town’ pledge
“I pledge, as a member of the Oxford, Ohio, Miami University Community, to provide a safe and inclusive environment for our friends, colleagues, students, youth and neighbors. Because they are antithetical to our community values, I reject and condemn acts of discrimination based on race/ethnicity, gender, gender identity/expression, sexuality, ability, religion/secularism, income or any other factors. I pledge to lead and live through example, and commit to end hate and intolerance in our town, Oxford, Ohio.”