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Faith leaders sign on to diversity-based 'Opportunity Pledge'

Lian Bunny/WBFO News

The momentum for Mayor Byron Brown’s Buffalo Opportunity Pledge continues to grow. Local faith-based leaders gathered at Niagara Square on Wednesday to sign the pact.The pledge is centered on the idea that diversity and inclusion are core values of Buffalo. It encourages individuals, businesses and organizations to commit to promoting equality. 

The initiative aims to reduce poverty and increase employment for people of all religions, ethnicities, disabilities, races, genders, sexual orientations and identities, nationalities and socioeconomic statuses. It also recognizes that embracing the city’s diversity will help Buffalo economically, strengthening recruitment and leading businesses to thrive.

Brown says more than 90 organizations and more than 1,000 individuals have signed the pledge. He adds the number of signatures has quadrupled over the past few weeks.

Bishop R. William Franklin of the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York says the gathering shows a positive change.

“We are at a moment when our nation is changing,” Franklin said. “No long is racist language, no longer are racist symbols, no longer is religious prejudice acceptable in our county. And Buffalo is leading the way in taking stands to show such unity.”

Reverend Alberto Lanzot of the Hispanic Pastors Association agreed and said Buffalo is paving the way for more improvements.

“I think of an old Chinese proverb,” Lanzot said. “It says, ‘Give a fish and the person eats a day.  Teach him how to fish and they’ll learn how to feed themselves.’ But this opportunity pledge is going one further. It’s giving them a place at the pond to throw their fish rod in and be able to fish.”

Bishop Michael Badger of Bethesda World Harvest International Church also used a story to convey his message, citing the story of Cain to illustrate how everyone is connected.

“I think the challenge that we all face is a question that Cain asked many, many years ago: Am I my brother’s keeper?” Badger said. “And I think that we all have to say that what happens to the least of us determines what happens to the rest of us.”

Individuals and organizations can sign the pledge at the city's website.

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