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Group aims to educate, ‘change Dunkirk’

The Black in Action Board members include: Darius Buchanan, Jamie Tell, Kizzy Tell, Rachel Thomas, Abraham J Robinson Jr. and Shirelle Thompson.

Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of articles in honor of Black History Month.

Black in Action is a cultural awareness group that began in the summer. They strive to spread cultural awareness in regard to the city of Dunkirk as a whole — not just one racial group. It’s called Black in Action because the board members are black, however it’s open to everyone.

“It just came out of nowhere,” member Abraham Robinson started. “My aunt Shirrelle (Thompson) came back from North Carolina. She’s from Dunkirk and she just wanted to change the community.”

The group’s goal is to educate blacks, whites, Hispanics or anyone really in the options available to them to better their lives and change the fabric of the community. Things they’re focusing on include a GED education, civil service exams, applying to the police academy and voter education.

“We want everyone who doesn’t know … to find out about these things,” Robinson added.

The group has only held one major event so far due to COVID-19 restrictions. It was in the late summer of where they had voter registration and education, civil service tests, GED applications and had guest speakers, including groups from Buffalo and current District Attorney Jason Schmidt.

“At our event last year we got a lot of people, first-time voters, some over 40 this year to vote for the first time, that was something major,” Robinson shared. “We want to do more cultural awareness, anything where people can learn more because not a lot of people in Dunkirk, blacks, whites and Hispanics know how to get a job as a police officer, firefighter or first responder, they just know factory.”

In Robinson’s opinion there’s a lot of people in the factories who would make great firefighters and first responders, but these individuals may not know how to achieve those goals.

“In Dunkirk these jobs have a tendency to be generational, which isn’t a bad thing, but we want to change Dunkirk so everyone has an opportunity to at least be one of those first responders,” Robinson noted.

When asked about the group’s view on the diversity that’s made its way into headlines in recent memory Robinson stated, “We all have different ideas and opinions about everything, but we feel like none of it is right. In due time with all of us helping, getting people aware of the situation, it’ll be nothing to accomplish change.”

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