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BLACK HISTORY MONTH

County NAACP partners with KRWG for Black History Month civil rights panel discussions

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Black History Month is the shortest month in the year, but its significance has never loomed larger than in 2021. Repeated attempts to undermine the will of the people, frivolous lawsuits aimed at overturning the election results and an insurgence at our U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 could not impede progress. The determination of the American people who are fed up with the status quo was prominently displayed, in living color during the inauguration.

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris now have the opportunity to change the direction of this country, much to the relief of many, but also to the dismay of some. Our new president’s cabinet reflects a diversity consistent with the demographics of this country. Those who find these cabinet appointments problematic have ignored the inevitable and the handwriting which has been on the wall for decades.

Nonetheless, we recognize that communication is an important bridge to a civil society where we can respect our differences and appreciate our similarities. Therefore, during Black History Month 2021, the Doña Ana County is partnering with KRWG to broadcast a series of panel discussions on some of our most pressing issues, such as civil rights, health disparities and 21st-century policing.

Our first panel discussion on civil rights will air at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 4. Panelists will include newly elected Doña Ana County District Attorney Gerald Byers, and Sheriff Kim Stewart, both of whom have been appointed to the New Mexico Civil Rights Commission. The program will be repeated at 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 6, and at 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 7.

The second panel discussion, which will be broadcast at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11, will address health and wellness issues, including the COVID-19 pandemic which has disproportionately affected people of color, and the equitable distribution of the vaccine. Award-winning attorney and chair of the New Mexico Black Democratic Caucus, Pamelya Herndon of Albuquerque, who is also the president and CEO of the KWH Law Center for Social Justice and Change, will be our panelist. The program will be repeated at 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 13, and at 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 14.

The third panel discussion, which will be broadcast at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 18, will focus on police reform. We are very fortunate that newly appointed chief of the Las Cruces Police Department, Miguel Dominguez, has accepted the invitation to be our panelist. The program will be repeated at 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20, and at 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 21.

During the fourth week in February, we will continue the discussion on police reform. Our guest panelists will be our own mayor of Las Cruces, Ken Miyagishima, and City Councilor (District 4) Johana Bencomo. The fourth panel discussion will be broadcast at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25. The program will be repeated at 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27, and at 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 28.

The Dona Ana County NAACP looks forward to keeping the lines of communication open. A collaboration with KRWG is a wonderful opportunity for us to reach our community in a meaningful way. We hope to do more of this in 2021.

The panel discussions will also be posted on the KRWG website, www.krwg.org, and the DAC NAACP website, www.naacpdac.org.

"KRWG Public Media is proud to partner with the NAACP on this project,” said KRWG Director of content Fred Martino. “We are always looking for ways to highlight important issues in our community.  We're grateful to have the NAACP's support in this effort."

If you would like to submit questions on the topics of civil rights, health and wellness, or police reform, email your questions to info@naacpdac.org.