Mayor’s Column: Our Path Forward
Last week George Floyd was laid to rest. Since his tragic death in Minneapolis, the entire nation has grieved the loss of Mr. Floyd, and the circumstances around his death have triggered national outrage. It was a tragedy that should have never happened.
Across the nation, demonstrations have called for action and reform on a variety of levels, including here in Sioux Falls. On May 31, thousands gathered downtown to peacefully demonstrate, and on June 13 hundreds joined to peacefully protest on Minnesota Avenue. These recent weeks have also reopened many wounds of past racism and injustice that many still experience today. Sioux Falls is certainly not immune to this hurt felt by so many. These demonstrations also exposed the unfinished work of the civil rights movement to bring our nation together so that each of us can live the American Dream without the fear of bias, racism or injustice, or fear for our own safety.
There is a Greek proverb that says, “It is a wise man that plants a tree under whose shade he shall never sit.” This saying is also true of the important work ahead of us to root out hate and inequality in our community and nation. It is hard, challenging and sometimes messy work; however, change is needed now so that we leave our society and our city better for future generations. But here’s the good news: The overwhelmingly majority of us are a people who care for our neighbors and who love our great city. This is a great starting point to move our city forward as One Sioux Falls.
For everyone to live their best lives, Sioux Falls must be more intentional about diversity, inclusion, equity, justice and opportunities for all. Much has been done in the past and Sioux Falls is in a far better place than many cities, yet there is more that can be done. The City is already joining with community leaders in these discussions around policy analysis, reform, and equity. These leaders, along with members of my public safety leadership team, are holding numerous conversations to determine how we can advance this dialogue and make meaningful change in Sioux Falls.
Change starts with acknowledging the issues and challenges in our city. We will identify the challenges and potential solutions through dialogue, primarily by listening to the life experiences of others and their ideas on how to heal and move forward as a community.
We are far more alike than we are different. Despite the polarizing times we are living in, I feel Sioux Falls is ready to lead and show the nation how meaningful dialogue can bring real change. With your help and with your resolve, I know we can bring about a positive change.
The future is ours to shape, Sioux Falls. The time is now. Let’s get to work.