COLUMBIA, SC — Citing a need for improved public discourse and enhanced economic development, the Columbia Urban League is issuing a call for more civil conversations among South Carolina residents.
The league unveiled its civility pledge to hundreds of guests during its 45th Annual Equal Opportunity Day Dinner Tuesday in Columbia, providing a soft launch for the initiative that promotes economic growth and prosperity for the state’s citizens.
“It begins to change the tenor of the conversation (in the state),” Urban League board member Frank Mood said of the pledge.
Mood, an attorney with Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd law firm, said the pledge is patterned after similar codes of conduct that have been put into place at many businesses, adding a primary goal is to boost the state’s business environment.
Urban League board members were concerned by what they perceive as negative perceptions about the state’s lack of civility, Mood said, prompting them to join similar efforts to help promote conversations.
The pledge encourages residents to conduct themselves “in ways which create a culture of understanding, collaboration, and sense of dignity among all people,” to incorporate those standards into their daily interactions and encourage others to do the same.
“I think it will have a ripple effect,” Mood said.
Mood said the Urban League is especially hopeful of getting the message of civility out to young people.
USC president Harris Pastides, who received the Urban League’s President’s Award Tuesday, applauded those efforts.
“When I think of that civility and Urban League’s commitment to it, there is absolutely no down side,” Pastides said. “It’s kind of like love. You can’t have too much of it.”
Pastides said USC encourages incoming freshmen to sign a similar pledge.
“It’s never too late, but it’s good to start early,” Pastides said. “We don’t get to them until they are freshmen in college. The Urban League is able to get to them and work with them at a far younger age.”
Mood said the Urban League hopes to partner with USC, other institutions of higher education, state chambers, businesses and Urban Leagues in other areas to build a wider collaboration.
Guests at Tuesday’s Equal Opportunity dinner were encouraged to sign the pledge and Mood said the offer will be extended to South Carolina residents in the coming months, likely through social media, but the logistics are still being worked out.
“It’s kind of what architects do. You don’t have the design build. You build on it as the strategy progresses,” Mood said. “The important thing is to get the conversation started.”
Reach Rantin at (803) 771-8306.