Diversity Expo bridges Allegheny and Meadville


Photo contributed by Freya Lindqvist

The Diversity Expo was hosted at Diamond Park in downtown Meadville last Saturday, Sept. 18.

Diamond Park was more lively than ever during Meadville’s first Diversity Exposition last Saturday, Sept. 18.

The Diversity Expo is an initiative by the National Association for the Advancement Of Colored Peoples’ Youth and College Committee to showcase and support diversity in Meadville — a majority caucasian community — according to Maria Rosado-Husband, head coordinator of the event and chairwoman for NAACP’s Youth and College Committee.

“There are majority Caucasian people in Meadville that really don’t experience different cultures here, and that is why it’s important to get our community members, whether they be Hispanic, African American, Asian or other to get together and bring unity,” Rosado-Husband said.

The following programs made an appearance at the expo: Crawford County Mental Health Awareness Program, Crawford County Women’s services, Family Forward — family Peer Support specialists, Crawford County School For Adult Education, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. mentoring program and Crawford county’s Pride Youth Alliance.

The music reached far beyond the borders of Diamond Park as the Diversity Expo was in full swing. Tables were situated throughout the park, offering many different services from apparel to mentoring programs.

Dr. Armendia P. Dixon has lived in Meadville for over 50 years and represented the mentoring program “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” at the event.

“We were very silent about things back then, a lot of things happened that probably shouldn’t have happened,” Dixon said. “When we separate and stay apart, we don’t know we can work together, so it is important that we schedule events where we see the perspective of different people, nowadays more than ever before.”

The pavilion in the middle of the park was covered in yellow and blue balloons, with a big banner displaying the NAACP emblem and Diversity Expo logo attached to the side.

Clothes and accessories were hanging on clothing racks by the vendor stalls and food trucks such as Domino’s pizza and hot dogs were stationed on the asphalt right outside the park.

To further display different traditions, the music playing throughout the event was inspired by cultures from all over the world.

Allegheny College also represented diversity and inclusion at the event, with clubs such as the South Asian Students’ Society and members from the Black Diamond event planning committee.

Koby Meadows, who works at the civic engagement office at Allegheny College and NAACP Youth and College Committee, finds it crucial to bring the Allegheny College campus to the Meadville community.

“There are a lot of people at Allegheny’s campus that don’t really feel like they have a space where they can be comfortable,” Meadows said. “This event shows that there are comfortable places in our community.”

According to Rosado-Husband the demand for Allegheny College students’ participation and volunteering at future events held by the NAACP is enormous.

“I would love to get more college students involved in our youth and college committee,” Rosado-Husband said. “I’d like to see them join the NAACP and partner with us moving forward in any of the different things that we do.”

Mori Weed, a 16-year-old Meadville Area Senior High School student, sold handmade jewelry and art.

“My involvement in the queer community makes diversity extremely important to me,” Weed said.

The Crawford County’s Pride Youth Alliance offered support to LGBTQ+ members and families of all ages. Their booth was decorated with pride flags and signs and offered free promotional merchandise.

Pride Youth Alliance meets Saturday afternoons weekly at local parks in Crawford County. They can be reached by email at [email protected].

Many activities were geared toward children at the event, such as face painting, drawing, crafting opportunities, raffles, candy and sweets of all kinds.

Dr. Pamela G. Riley, a mental health therapist, offered fidget toys, snacks and a coloring station at her stall.

“I think the past election really brought out the views of the people in this area, which is strongly conservative, unfortunately with very few liberal views,” Riley said.

Riley said that events like these help spread information about what agencies are offering support and where people can go for resources in the community.

There are upcoming events in the Meadville community, such as a time capsule event on Oct. 13 hosted by Meadville Dr. MLK Jr. Scholarship Board and Crawford Central School District with Allegheny College as one of the sponsors.

Black Diamond is also in the process of planning their annual celebration for black residents in Meadville, which will be held during the upcoming spring semester.