WEST ORANGE, NJ — At a time when divisions in the United States are concerning more and more people, the work of the West Orange Human Relations Commission (WOHRC) has taken on greater urgency over the past year.

The WOHRC’s initiatives to bring people together and celebrate the township’s diversity were a major focus of the West Orange Township Council’s meeting on Tuesday.

“We pride ourselves on being a diverse community in West Orange, and our Commission will continue to bring people together to promote diversity,” said Tammy Williams, chair of the WOHRC, during her presentation of the Commission’s 2016 Annual Report to the council.

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Among the highlights of the commission’s work that she discussed were: the Unity Gathering following the election in order to address people’s concerns about the divisive rhetoric during the presidential campaign; a community vigil in June after the killings in Orlando that lent support to the LGBT community in particular; the Martin Luther King, Jr.  Celebration that put a spotlight on the growth of hate crimes since the November election; and an event on “Developing Leaders in the 21st Century.”

Williams invited the public to attend the commission’s Town Hall meeting on “We All Belong,” which will focus on new conversations on diversity, tolerance and combatting implicit bias. Township officials and noted political leaders agreed to attend this meeting, which will be held on Feb. 22 at Town Hall Chambers at 6:30 p.m.

During the meeting, the council also passed an ordinance to reduce the WOHRC voting members from its current 23 members to 13. According to the ordinance, each council member can now choose two commission members and the mayor can choose three members.

“By reducing the number of members on the Commission, we will make it a more efficient, focused entity,” said councilman Jerry Guarino. “It will help the commission do an even better job of doing what it’s supposed to do: bring us together.”

The next Council meeting will be on Feb. 21. To read more from this meeting, click HERE.