On May 19, 2017, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome released this letter to residents of East Baton Rouge Parish after seeing racist and bigoted statements posted online.
At my inauguration in January, I spoke about the fabric of our community and how it could be torn by the challenges of the day. I said that many would look at these challenges and choose to define us by the different and diverse pieces that exist. I stood before this city excited by the opportunity to help lead the unification of our different and disparate pieces of cloth into a wonderful, colorful, distinctive and inclusive quilt that will be the “new Baton Rouge.” I spoke about how we could utilize the common and strong threads of respect, opportunity, fairness, inclusion, equity, and optimism to weave an amazing tapestry of growth and progress that touches every area of this parish and beyond. I had much hope then and I have much hope now.
I have a profound love for this city, parish and ALL residents. My goal as mayor-president is to unite people around our collective goals of progress and equity. While freedom of speech is one of the pillars that makes this country so beautiful, irresponsibility of such can be used as a tool to separate us as community. As your mayor-president, I stand against hatred, division, and words and actions that only further divide our community. I do not endorse or support the opinions of any individual or media outlet that would attempt to take us down a path of strife and contentiousness. I write to you today to say that this division cannot and will not be the demise of Baton Rouge.
While this administration has been working diligently to address the priorities that you as citizens have established for Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish, we still have much work to do. This includes but is not limited to: ensuring that all of our children, regardless of their addresses, receive an optimum education; our police are equipped and trained properly not only to be aligned with 21st century best practices, but to also be aligned with the community they serve; we are adequately prepared for natural disasters and recovery; and that all neighborhoods have the tools necessary to make them the safe, progressive places that residents deserve; and that economic growth touches all parts of our city. Lastly, I will continue to work to make peace and justice the standard for our community — not the exception.
We can accomplish these goals and more if we work together. That is when we are our strongest.
In closing, I want to be very clear: I reject any efforts intended to create division and strife in our community. The statements that I made during my campaign for your mayor-president and subsequent inaugural address were not just idle words. I meant every word with every fiber of my being when I spoke of the “new Baton Rouge.” Our future is a shared one. We are inextricably bound together in our search for
a place that we can be proud to call home. And I, for one, refuse to be deterred in our journey.
Sharon Weston Broome