On March 23, 2016, the North Carolina General Assembly passed the now infamous House Bill 2 (HB2), a sweeping anti-LGBTQ legislation, nullifying Charlotte’s ordinance to add gay and transgender people to the city’s list of classes protected against discrimination, enacted just one month prior. Immediately NC began to see the repercussions of its actions from corporations, musicians and artists, conferences, sports organizations, and many others who do not wish to be associated with the discriminatory actions taken by the state legislature—including the Special Libraries Association, which decided not to hold its annual conference in Charlotte that year as originally planned. HB2 was repealed and replaced a year later, and in 2021 Charlotte City Council unanimously passed a nondiscriminatory ordinance.
Since 2016, Charlotte along with the rest of the country has roiled with grief, pain, and anger at the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Keith Lamont Scott, and too many others at the hands of police. Black Lives Matter protests erupted across the city for weeks, seeking justice. Today a prominent Black Lives Matter activist sits on the Charlotte City Council and will likely be re-elected to his third term this fall. The fading Black Lives Matter mural on Tryon Street in uptown Charlotte, not far from the convention center, remains a symbol and reminder of the work needed to achieve racial equity.
And then there is COVID. The pandemic’s deadly rise and spread disrupted all of our lives irrevocably, and virtual interactions became the rule rather than an exception as the health and safety of our families, our colleagues, our coworkers, even strangers, became paramount. The greatest toll was taken in BIPOC communities: history proves that severe illness and death rates tend to be higher for racial and ethnic minority populations during public health emergencies than for other populations. Though we are now seeing a shift back toward familiar systems and operations, these concerns continue to guide our actions and interactions.
The potential for drastic improvement remains in Charlotte, in North Carolina, and in ourselves. The Carolinas Community understands this, and it is our hope and our goal that, very soon, NC will be a truly inclusive and welcoming place to the entire LGBTQIA+ community, to all People of Color, and to all who have experienced and continue to experience discrimination, racism, marginalization, and diminishment. Until that day, we welcome you and we stand with you, both in Charlotte during the SLA Annual Conference 2022 and beyond.
The Carolinas Community believes in advocacy, collaboration, diversity, equity, inclusion, equality, justice, and intellectual freedom for all persons regardless of abilities, age, background, beliefs, color, ethnicity, familial relationships, gender identity or expression, lifestyle choices, marital status, national origin, physical appearance, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or preferences, or veteran status. We vow to create a welcoming and safe space, whether virtual or physical, free of harassment stemming from our differences. These differences are our strength and CSLA is committed to embracing the diversity in our community and creating a culture of respect throughout our planning, programming, and profession.
For more information about CSLA's action steps toward promoting a safe and inclusive environment for all conference attendees and community members, explore our Care+AllyNet resources.