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Merrillville's Black History Month event draws criticism

screenshot from Merrillville YouTube video
Merrillville Clerk-Treasurer Kelly White Gibson (left) reacts, as council member Richard Hardaway explains the decision not to honor elected officials at the town's Black History Month celebration.

Merrillville's Black History Month celebration left some people feeling left out.

During last week's town council meeting, council member Leonard White felt a number of the town's elected and appointed officials who broke the color barrier should have been recognized. "I didn't know that we wouldn't be honoring Merrillville people. We're honoring people from Hammond. That didn't make sense to me," White said.

But council member Richard Hardaway said that decision was intentional. "The reason why no elected officials were acknowledged is because the people that were coming to the event specifically said, 'If it becomes a political event, we're not buying tables,'" Hardaway explained.

Others felt that it would have been possible to more fully honor the town's history without delving into politics.

Meanwhile, resident Ursula Peppers felt last month's event was simply too expensive for many Merrillville residents. "Was it just for corporations buying tables, or was it for our community to come and celebrate or something for us to partake in?" Peppers asked.