BERNARDSVILLE, NJ — Bernardsville Mayor Mary Jane Canose has organized a Diversity Advisory Council comprised of clergy, school representatives, police officers and members of the community, she announced last week.

The mayor said her action was inspired by the protest that was held in the borough in early June in the wake of the George Floyd killing in Minneapolis last spring.

“The goal of this group is to engage in the difficult dialog to uncover the inequities and issues in our community," Canose said. "Members have been sharing their experiences, both negative and positive, with their neighbors, the schools, the police and other community groups. It has, at times, been an uncomfortable discussion, but a much needed one." 

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The mayor added, "Our community is strongest when we summon the courage to stand up and speak out against hate and prejudice wherever we find it - in our neighborhoods, on social media, in our businesses and workplaces. I was surprised to hear members of the Diversity Council share stories of bullying on social media, name calling by their childrens' school mates, and racist comments made by neighbors. This is not the Bernardsville in which I thought I lived. And the fact that I was not aware of these behaviors convinces me of the urgency to address them. All members of our community have the right to be treated with respect and dignity. We must confront hateful incidents and act to protect and support each other.” 

The Diversity Council will be tasked with creation of an action plan that will include "engaging and celebrating other cultures, educating the community on diversity, speaking out against acts of hate, and involving more residents in the conversation."