I have lived in Janesville since 1970 and arrived in a community that was vibrant, productive, growing and racially homogeneous. It was so homogeneous that my wife and I seriously considered leaving shortly after our arrival.

It is now 2018, and we are pleased to witness the changing demographics of our community as well as the efforts to create a more welcoming and educated community when it comes to racial justice issues.

Within the last month, Janesville was privileged to host the fourth annual YWCA Racial Justice Conference. Many thanks to Angela Moore, our YWCA executive director, and her racial justice team. They have helped educate and motivate this community about racial justice issues.

On the evening of the YWCA Racial Justice Conference, Parker High School graduate Mistie Bass delivered an outstanding keynote address at the Janesville Multicultural Teacher Scholarship benefit. What a great tribute to our community to have people investing their dollars “to grow our own” teachers of color. After years of unsuccessfully trying to recruit teachers of color, then-Janesville School Board member Tim Cullen came up with this creative way of recruiting teachers of color.

Currently we have six recipients of this scholarship employed in the Janesville School District. There are four more students who are attending college and looking forward to working in Janesville.

It’s impressive to see how our city, county and school district have worked to become more diverse, inclusive and culturally competent. The city of Janesville has sponsored diversity training for division managers. Our police chief, David Moore, has made a stellar effort to train and educate his officers in programs that promote and respect “fair and impartial” policing.

Rock County has initiated diversity and cultural competency training for its staff. Kudos to Josh Smith, Rock County administrator.

Meanwhile, the school district continues to promote diversity training for its staff and workshops for students.

We are not a model for diversity by any means. But since 1970 we have made major strides. A community that has been singled out for not being friendly toward minorities is making a concerted effort to make a difference.

It’s been 48 years since we arrived in Janesville. I’m delighted Jeanne and I decided to stay to be part of this transformation. The work is not to be taken lightly. It is a result of dedication, commitment and willingness to welcome change. We are proud to call Janesville home. We are glad we stayed.

Santo Carfora lives in Janesville and is a retired Janesville School District educator. He is a member of the African American Liaison Advisory Committee to the Janesville Police Department and member of the Diversity Action Team of Rock County. He is also co-owner of S & J Consulting.

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