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Honoring the Life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. - We Shall Overcome!

Honoring the Life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. - We Shall Overcome!

Message From Chamber President Bill Russell

Pick up a paper, turn on the television, listen to the radio, or simply have a conversation with a family member or friend and the first words spoken are likely, "How are you feeling?"

Today, nearly all of us have had someone in our family, a co-worker, or close friend who currently has Covid-19 or has recovered from it. The impact of this pandemic has been profound and lasted far longer than any of us had possibly imagined.  Remember the phrase. "Two weeks to flatten the curve"?

Our economy, just two years ago the envy of the world, now sees inflation, rising energy costs, shortages, and employment issues. We see the challenges firsthand when we fill up our automobile and shop at the grocery store. Americans are simply not accustomed to being told to lower our expectations or get used to the new normal.

My position here at the chamber allows me to talk with many of you. I see and hear about the challenges imposed on our businesses, not just here in the Charlotte region, but across our nation. It leads me to believe that America has not been this divided on partisan issues since the 1960's when America wrestled with the Civil Rights Struggle and our involvement in Vietnam.

We were not fighting an unseen enemy like Covid-19 but were challenged as a people, and our nation was embroiled in major controversies - war, race relations, and women's rights to name a few. It was during that Civil Rights struggle that the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King stood at a podium in Selma, Alabama and reminded us all, "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in times of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy."

While Dr. King may have used the word "man," certainly today, he would have embraced the diversity of our workforce and included women in that charge. It is indeed our diversity which makes us stronger as a community and the reason we shall overcome the challenges we face.

The Chamber has a strong Diversity program and this year we will focus on many of the elements that make us such a wonderful community. We will examine how we can integrate special need adults into our workforce, enhance race relations throughout the region, and recognize the differences in cultures as we assimilate into one workforce - one community. We will also delve into the controversial subjects of gender identity and sexual preference. If we are to be a dynamic and prosperous community, we must be a community that capitalizes on the strengths we share together and the differences that provide our unique perspectives.

We are blessed in the Lake Norman region to have some of the best healthcare providers in the nation and while we may still be challenged with sickness over the winter days ahead, like that great gospel song which became an anthem for the American Civil Rights Struggle, "We Shall Overcome!"

On Monday, January 17th, we honor a man who became a symbol for hope and change - the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. His words spoke loudly of hope and change, and his actions spoke louder than the words. He reminded us all that the one thing we can all be assured of is change and challenges are often brought about by change. Today is different than yesterday and tomorrow will be different than today.

Most importantly, "It's not enough to be equal in the eyes of God. We must be equal in the eyes of each other."

W.E. "Bill" Russell, CCE IOM

President & CEO

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