HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Huntsville City Council President John Meredith held a public forum today to discuss how the city plans to be more inclusive as the city grows rapidly. 

Kenny Anderson, the director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), introduced new initiatives and programs the city is now offering for everyone to get involved in.  

When Mayor Tommy Battle was elected in 2008, the idea of the establishment of a multicultural affairs office was to include every citizen in Huntsville in the process of the city’s growth.  

Anderson presented his plan that will better include people of color in the areas of civic engagement and government and with the creation of the Civic Engagement Academy, that plan is beginning to take shape.  

“This is a very large city now and we have passed Birmingham in terms of population,” Anderson told News 19. “We’ve been named the best city to live in by major publications and so more and more people have their eyes on Huntsville and more and more people see Huntsville as an opportunity to get an education, to live and raise a family, and more.”

The creation of the Civic Engagement Academy by the DEI will open the door for all ethnic groups to work internally with local government on issues that matter to them and to better understand what changes are on the table in their communities. 

“We have people that may have questions from time to time,” Anderson continued. “How do streets get paved? How do potholes get repaired? How do I get the city services that are basic from public transportation and more?”

“This is an opportunity for people to have an up close and personal opportunity to relationally meet with department heads and really learn about the systems that help to make the city work,” Anderson stated.

Anderson says that the new Civic Engagement Academy for Inclusion will include a Juneteenth community initiative and involve students from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) that will allow young people of color to learn and be a part of the community discussions.