Huber diversity commission: ‘We want to ensure we are an inclusive city’

Yolanda Stephens

Residents of Huber Heights are working to start a conversation around racism and equality.

Huber Heights City Council appointed five new members to the Culture and Diversity Citizen Action Commission last week. The commission was created in June, shortly after the death of George Floyd.

Frederick Aikens, Jean Newby and Tara Purvis will serve on the committee with a term ending in 2022. Estephon Ramirez and Arrick Richardson will serve terms ending in 2021.

The Eric and Yolanda Stephens, Rhonda Sumlin and Mia Honaker were the first four members of the commission.

Eric and Yolanda Stephens, who have lived in Huber Heights for more than 20 years, messaged Mayor Jeff Gore about forming a commission like this after Floyd’s death. Yolanda Stephens said the couple started having conversations about diversity in the city and how what happened to Floyd can happen anywhere.

Members serve three year, staggered terms.

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Yolanda Stephens, the chair of the commission, said the Huber Heights is a diverse community.

“Just because we’re a diverse city doesn’t mean we’re open to diverse culture,” Stephens said. “We wanted to ensure that we are an inclusive city.”

Floyd’s death has sparked protests across the country and calls for change.

Stephens said she hopes the commission will be “multi-tiered,” with an educational component, a reform component and an activity-based component.

“We want to do things around voter registration, get people to understand how city council works, educate students in Huber about different cultures,” Stephens said. “We want to look at the police department, is it reflective of the population? Are we minority business-friendly? Does our city staff reflect the city’s population?”

The commission’s hope is to increase exposure to other cultures. Stephens said she also wants to develop a process for the commission to receive complaints or comments about racism or injustice in the city.

“I’m not aware of other cities doing this, so I hope that other cities will see our work and start something like this,” she said.

The commission has not yet set a meeting date for all nine members.

“We chose people who had a passion. This is going to be a very busy commission because there’s a lot to do,” Stephens said.

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