Downtown Pride Month Feature

State College PRIDE signboard at South Allen Street on Wednesday, June 1, 2022 in State College, Pa.

At the State College Borough Council meeting on Monday, Mayor Ezra Nanes made multiple proclamations for the month of June.

The first proclamation was Immigrant Heritage Month.

In his proclamation, Nanes said immigrants are an “important part” of State College and have been “tireless leaders not only in securing their own rights and access to equal opportunity, but also in campaigning to create a fairer and more just society for all Americans.”

“Despite these countless contributions, the role of immigrants in building and enriching our nation, state and community has frequently been overlooked and undervalued throughout our history, which continues to the present day,” Nanes said in the proclamation.

Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia — the Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Penn State Law, Director of the Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic and a Samuel Weiss Faculty Scholar and Clinical Professor of Law — accepted the proclamation from Mayor Nanes.

Wadhia said Immigrant Heritage Month has given people across the United States an opportunity to “explore their own heritage” and “to celebrate the shared diversity that forms the unique story of America.”

“Immigrant Heritage Month is a moment to reflect and consider how immigrants continue to be marginalized, how history informs this marginalization and our collective responsibility to ensure that immigrants in our community feel welcomed and have the tools to thrive,” Wadhia said.

The second proclamation Mayor Ezra Nanes made was Juneteenth Freedom Day on June 19, encouraging everyone to “recognize and work toward eradicating systemic racism and pervasive white supremacy that persists in our community and country.”

Nanes cited the history of the Juneteenth holiday in his proclamation — where on June 19, 1865, enslaved Americans in Galveston, Texas received word they were free from bondage, two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

“Juneteenth is a day on which we formally acknowledge the terrible oppression, brutality, and injustice the institution of slavery inflicted on African Americans,” Nanes said in the proclamation. “Juneteenth also reminds us of the great courage… possessed by Americans of African descent, and the beauty and pride of African-American culture.”

Nanes also mentioned the State College NAACP’s Juneteenth Celebration entitled “Reflections of Black Experiences: Voices of Freedom Through the Ages” that will take place on June 18 in partnership with the borough and various other organizations and “celebrate and enlighten the community.”

Lorraine Jones, the President of State College’s NAACP, accepted the proclamation on behalf of the organization.

“Our efforts to recognize Juneteenth is part of the State College NAACP’s efforts to continue to enlighten and raise awareness about our history, our Black brilliance, empowerment and help our Black community members have a sense of belonging within Centre County,” Jones said.

Jones also said the community “must continue to be intentional in reaching out to those who have been historically racially marginalized.”

The third and last proclamation from Monday’s council meeting was LGBTQ Pride Month.

Sonya Wilmoth, the director of Penn State’s Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, accepted the proclamation and spoke to her experiences as an LGBTQ person in State College.

“We were met with nothing but open arms, a lot of positive interactions,” Wilmoth said. “I stand here tonight excited and very proud to represent the advisory board…[and] to be a resident and be able to live and work and raise a family here in State College and the surrounding areas knowing that all of you… support sexual and gender diverse communities.”

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