Many believe that increased diversity within the American workplace means bridging the gap between blacks and whites.
That’s not entirely true, said U.S. Attorney Edward Tarver of the Southern District of Georgia on Friday to a group of about 50 pupils and educators at the Columbia County Alternative School.
Workplaces, particularly in government, need to embrace gender, religious and socio-economic diversity, Tarver said.
“We want everybody to have an opportunity to serve,” he said.
Such were the freedoms for which Martin Luther King Jr. and many others peacefully fought during the civil rights movement.
Though “subjected to outrageous behavior,” such as whites only water fountains, restrooms and restaurants, King refused to allow others to deny him the rights afforded him and all Americans by the U.S. Constitution. Tarver said.
Though those in the U.S. Department of Justice “failed to do their jobs,” Tarver said King’s message resonated with the public and America changed for the better.
Today, Tarver noted, he is the first black to serve as the U.S. Attorney in Georgia’s Southern District.
His boss, Eric Holder, is the first black Attorney General, and they both answer to the Unites States’ first black president, Barack Obama.
“That’s a tremendous accomplishment for a man who was a country preacher,” Tarver said of King.
But much still needs to be done, he said.
Many small, rural communities in Georgia still have never had a black office holder, Tarver said. And a growing problem is the racial divide between whites and Hispanics.
Only by abandoning stereotypes and appreciating differences can America truly become “peaceful and productive,” Tarver said.
“We are all really more alike than we are different,” he said. “We need to make it clear that prejudice of any type is wrong.”