Letter: Pride/Black Lives

I’d like to extend my deepest thanks to the organizers of the Putnam Pride/Black Lives Matter march and rally held June 22 in Carmel, and would especially like to commend the participants (Two Causes, One Voice, June 26).

Living in small, tight-knit, rural towns like Philipstown and Putnam Valley, we often focus on the things that unite us as neighbors, unite us as friends, unite us as parents, and bring everyone together toward a common cause. But in pursuit of focusing on what makes us alike, we so frequently overlook all of the individual, unique differences each of us brings to the table. By taking an opportunity to celebrate and elevate those perspectives and identities, hopefully we can widen the lens of what makes Putnam County a great place to live.

One thing we have learned from this ongoing pandemic is the importance of relying on our neighbors and our community for support. But whenever anyone feels unsafe or unwelcome or unable to take advantage of that network, its connections are weakened for everyone. It is our responsibility as leaders, as allies and as neighbors to make sure everyone across Putnam County feels included and valued, and is treated with the dignity that makes us all feel heard, connected and protected.

This work doesn’t start in September and end in November every two years or four years. We can’t wait for something horrible to happen here, or for some awful legislation to be proposed, to push us toward action. Let’s take a proactive approach to inclusivity in our communities. We need to be working all the time, now more than ever, to make sure that everyone in Putnam County has a voice, and that when we envision what our communities look like and feel like, it is something we can all be proud of.

One way that we can work toward change today is by establishing a Human Rights Commission for Putnam County. We are the only county in the downstate area that does not have such a commission. In January, I sponsored legislation to establish one. Dozens of folks came out in support. Since then, the chair of the Rules Committee has been slow to answer my requests to put the proposal back on the agenda for discussion and a vote.

Now is the time. It’s time for all communities across Putnam County to have a safe, formal venue to foster mutual respect and understanding, and to promote equity, acceptance, unity and humanity for us all.

Please help move this initiative forward. Email Legislator Neal Sullivan at [email protected] and demand he put the Human Rights Commission on the July agenda.

I am committed to continue this challenging, important work. With your help, we can get it done.

Nancy Montgomery, Philipstown

Montgomery represents Philipstown on the county Legislature.

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