The Livingston Diversity Council is a grass roots local organization made up of business people, private citizens, educators and clergy who live or work in Livingston County. We work with schools, churches, employers and community groups to develop programs designed to encourage tolerance, respect, openness and an appreciation for diversity, with a focus on race, ethnicity and culture. We speak out against racism and other acts of discrimination and cooperate with law enforcement officials to encourage reporting of violations of individual rights.
Back in 1988, when the Howell community learned of an intimidating cross-burning on the lawn of one of the county's black families, we created this organization to respond. Our members committed themselves to finding ways to neutralize the hate we saw and to promote appreciation of diversity. We chose our name and our target date for accomplishment of our goal to bracket the years during which that year's first graders would work their way through to high school graduation – which occurred in 2001.
But what we found in 2001 was that our work was not finished. We have modified our name (Livingston 2001 to Livingston Diversity Council) and continue with an expanded mission.
We believe that our country was founded on a commitment to equality under the law and the right to be judged, rewarded and held accountable on the basis of individual action, regardless of race, creed, disability, gender or sexual orientation. We are committed to upholding these fundamental rights.
Livingston County is in a period of rapid growth and change. As measured in percent growth we are the fastest growing county in the state. We are changing from a rural to an urbanized region. The U.S. Census Bureau recently classified the Howell-Brighton-South Lyon corridor as an urbanized region. Our economy is also changing. Agriculture is giving way to an increasing number of manufacturing concerns – most auto industry related – but with many others doing business internationally. Over the past three decades the population growth trend was as a bedroom community. That is, a community where the majority of working residents left the county in the morning to work in Ingham, Washtenaw, Oakland, Wayne, or Genessee counties. Today we see that trend reversing with nearly as many people coming into the county daily to work as leave for work.
And with our growth we are witnessing a change in the ethnic, racial, and cultural makeup of the county. Livingston County is gradually becoming more diverse. The 1990 census indicated that nearly 99% of the county population was Caucasian; the 2000 census places that number at about 97%. Although this is not a big change, our school authorities and other interested and knowledgeable observers report that the change has been most noticeable in the past four to five years and is accelerating.
In summary, the racial, ethnic, cultural makeup of the county is changing. This change in the makeup of the community presents opportunities and challenges. Our organization values and welcomes diversity and we believe that diversity will contribute to the strength of our community.
We also recognize that our growing diversity presents challenges. Our young people, having generally lived in a non-diverse environment, have much to learn about the very diverse world outside their community. Likewise, our county workforce - whether it is in retail, commercial, manufacturing or other fields - will face new issues and challenges as they work with and within an increasingly diverse population.
The Livingston Diversity Council continues to
provide an important dimension within our community. We are a resource
for our community and our leadership is ready to respond against hatred
and to promote the positive human relationships that we know we need.
Our leadership has been proven in times of conflict and confrontation,
as well as in quiet conversations and unnoticed deeds.