Human Rights Month: Commission works to improve life in Beckley

RALEIGH COUNTY, WV (WOAY) – Over the past two years, Beckley has worked to make sure all its residents have equal rights. n

The Human Rights Commission has made progress in making sure the LGBTQ community feels safe in the city.

“It really has changed a lot of the attitude in and around Beckley,” said commission chair Danielle Stewart. “People are feeling free to come out, express themselves and be who they are without fear of being retaliated against. With that, organizations have sprung up, like Beckley Pride and the West Virginia Gay & Lesbian Community Center.”

Although the city now allows for residents to express their sexuality more easily, Stewart says the commission’s work is far from over.

“While it has been nice to add protections for sexual orientation and gender identity, we still have not come to grasp issues involving race.”

Beckley is one of the more diverse cities, but Stewart says the response to the Black Lives Matter movement shows things still need to improve.

“Our diversity is really not represented. A lot of people don’t believe that diversity is a strength.”

Stewart says that simply isn’t true, citing the idea that two heads are better than one.

“When you can bring everyone together, you have a diverse community that’s invested in an idea and a solution that’s going to work.”

If you’re interested in getting involved, contact the Human Rights Commission to be put in touch with organizations like the NAACP and Beckley Pride.

Kassie Simmons
Kassie Simmons joined the team in January 2019 as a weekend journalist. She graduated from Virginia Tech in just two and a half years with a BA in multimedia journalism. During her short time at Virginia Tech, she served as the editor for the university’s chapter of The Tab. Kassie was named the top reporter for The Tab at Virginia Tech on multiple occasions and made the list for the top 30 reporters for The Tab in the U.S. She also studied theater performance and minored in creative writing. Before coming to WOAY, Kassie interned at WSLS in Roanoke and the Tidewater Review in her hometown of West Point, Va. She has loved following breaking news since her childhood and has a passion for delivering the stories people care most about. Kassie is excited to be working in Southern West Virginia and looks forward to all the adventures ahead of her. You can follow her on Twitter at @KassieLSimmons and like her page on Facebook. If you have a story you think she should check out, send her an email at ksimmons@woay.com.