It's a perception that has established itself over the years and it's incorrect
HARRISION, AR (KNWA) - Type Harrison, Arkansas into an internet search and the resulting information isn't, according to Mayor Jeff Crockett, what his town is all about.
"It's a perception that has established itself over the years and it's incorrect. We are fighting hard to get out the real message of Harrison, Arkansas and how people really are here."
Crockett and other city officials are part of a voluntary task force on race relations. According to the group's Facebook page, its mission is to respond to an inaccurate, negative image, namely, that Harrison is a racist community.
"I feel that in order for Harrison to grow and to grow at a decent pace like the rest of Northwest Arkansas is growing we have to be accepting to everybody, all races all religions, we cannot exclude any body from our population," Crockett says.
It's an uphill battle, Mayor Crockett says, thanks to the efforts of the Ku Klux Klan. "There are a few people that would like to make people outside of Harrison think that Harrison is all white and think that's what we want to be as a community and that's not true at all."
"I am not a racist. I don't hate black people," Pastor Thomas Robb says. Robb is the National Director of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. "I prefer for Harrison to be all white, but I don't have that kind of control. I don't have that kind of power. So all I can do is let white people know that this is a good area."
Robb is worried the task force's work could actually lead to more issues in Harrison.
When asked: Why are you resisting the efforts of the task force? - Robb responds, "Why is the task force resisting my effort? Why do they want to change Harrison? This illusion of a diverse community is such an illusion to relieve them of their guilt. But in reality, diversity is a code word for white genocide."
Robb believes his town is perfectly fine the way it is. "Harrison has a nice message. Harrison is a good community. If the mayor doesn't like it then he's invited to move out. I'll come and pack his bags."
"Whether they like it or don't like it, the fact is, Harrison became a better city without negroes," Robb says.
"Pastor Robb has his view points. He is entitled to them. I would wish that he would quit trying to make everyone feel that those are the viewpoints of Harrison, Arkansas and take ownership of those viewpoints as being his and only his and his membership of his group and not the whole community."
There's another roadblock for Mayor Crockett and his task force. A billboard - put up by anonymous buyers with the message, "Anti-Racist is Code For Anti-White."
Mayor Crockett says, "It doesn't express a good image in my view. I would hate to think people who drive through Harrison would think that's what Harrison is about."
So whether their experience with Harrison, Arkansas is online or in person, Mayor Crockett wants folks to know he's working hard to stifle the city's stigma. "My goal is to have everybody that travels through here wants to move here wants to visit a relative or a friend here feel comfortable anytime day or night."
Mayor Crockett hopes to continue bringing groups into town, like the Martin Luther King Commission, that will help the town's image.
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