The Rev. Ron Johnson was elected Thursday night to serve as chairman of the Danville United Community Relations Coalition. The Rev. John Carroll was elected to serve as vice chairman.
Johnson is pastor at Holbrook Presbyterian Church in Danville. Carroll is pastor at First Baptist Church in Danville. Both will serve one-year terms.
“Through Danville United, we have a great opportunity to work together,” Johnson after being elected. “We will get to know each other’s names, and together, we are going to decide how we go from one process to the other.”
Johnson said he wants Danville to become a model for race relations. “We have the opportunity to help Danville come to believe it is a great city in which to live. We want to engage every segment of society.”
Carroll said equality is “something I’m deeply passionate about.”
“We can make this a better place,” Carroll said. “Despite our differences, we all belong to each other.”
The meeting was held in the Barkhouser Auditorium at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research on Slayton Avenue.
The chairman presides over meetings, with the vice chairman presiding in the absence of the chairman.
Johnson and Carroll are the first elected chairman and vice chairman to lead the coalition. They succeed Danville Mayor Sherman Saunders and Vice Mayor Gary Miller, who were appointed by Danville City Council to serve as chairman and vice chairman, respectively, during the initial organization of the coalition.
Danville City Council voted unanimously in October to create the coalition, which is known as “Danville United.” The coalition provides a means for networking, information sharing and strategy development to make Danville a more tolerant, friendly and welcoming community to all regardless of race, gender, religion, creed, ethnicity, nationality, or economic status.
At Thursday’s meeting, the membership of Danville United endorsed two upcoming events:
• A community book read and discussion by the Danville Public Library Book Club of the novel “Americanah,” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi. The discussion will take place on Feb. 27 at the library. The novel is a story about a young man and young woman from Nigeria who face difficult choices and challenges in the countries they call home. It is also a thought provoking look into modern attitudes toward race in the United States. The book is available to borrow or purchase at the library.
• Danville Sings, a program of the Danville Museum of Fine Arts & History, scheduled for April 5. The event will bring choirs from the city’s traditionally black and white churches together for an afternoon of singing on the lawn of the museum.
The next meeting of the coalition is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13, at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research. City of Danville Community Development staff will present a program on blight eradication efforts.
Membership is open to all individuals and organizations. For more information on Danville United, visit www.danvilleunited.org.