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Lessa Pelayo-Lozada's picture

BCALA Press Release and Update

Please forgive duplication.  I want to make sure we have all relevant documents available to us for our discussion on this matter.  The below is an update from the president of BCALA, Jerome Offord, Jr. on yesterday's statement.

Best,

Lessa

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Colleagues:

Thank you for the notes of support and the quiet concerns. However, I want to make sure you understand the purpose of the press release and BCALA's intent. Please allow me to provide you a timeline of events.

·        In the fall of 2013, BCALA leadership received a note regarding the Orlando Conference and the Stand Your Ground issues in the State of Florida.
·        The aforementioned question sparked dialogue on the Executive Board electronic list.
·        Several board members requested that this issue be on the January 2014 Executive Board Midwinter Meeting agenda.
·        During the Midwinter Meeting, the Executive Board discussed this issue at length and the Board voted that BCALA should go on record expressing our concern about the implementation and interpretation of the Stand Your Ground Law in Florida and the ALA 2016 Annual Conference scheduled to be in Orlando, FL.
·        The Executive Board shared this issue with BCALA’s ALA Liaison during the Executive Board meeting during Midwinter.
·        I, along with VP Watson, shared BCALA’s concerns with the leaders from the ethnic affiliates and ALA during our meeting at Midwinter.
·        I shared BCALA’s concern during the ALA Affiliates Luncheon during Midwinter.
·        I, along with VP Watson, shared BCALA’s concerns during the JCLC meeting with the ethnic affiliates.
·        During the membership meeting on Sunday night, this issue was brought to the forefront when I announced that the Executive Board had taken action and the members affirmed the board’s decision.
·        On January 28, 2014, at 8:57 p.m., in a message titled, Updates From Midwinter, I shared, that “The Executive Board voted to authorize the President to pen a letter to express the BCALA’s concerns and discontent with the 2016 Annual conference location (Orlando, FL) because of the gross misinterpretation of, and poor implementation of, the Stand Your Ground Law in the State of Florida vs. Zimmerman case."
After issuing the press release, a note was sent to ALA leadership regarding the matter and formally requested a meeting.
Today, though I was not available, ALA President, Barbara Stripling, did reach out and I will follow-up with her tomorrow.

Therefore, I attest that this issue was not a surprise.  We verbally shared this with others prior to leaving Midwinter.

To be blatantly clear, BCALA did not and has not called for a boycott of the 2016 conference.  I want to remind each of you to understand that your leaders were sensitive to the matter, while understanding the stance.  Please do not allow others to use our concern as a way to divide and/or isolate BCALA, Inc., its members, and/or its leaders.  Again, we did NOT call for a boycott.

As President of BCALA, Inc., it is my duty and obligation to follow the will of the governing body of this august organization.  Your executive board, and the members, want to be heard on this issue.

Your leaders are aware that ALA, an organization that we all pay dues to, has a financial obligation and contract. We are aware that the possibility of moving the conference is near impossible. However, the impossibilities and challenges regarding the Orlando conference does not mean that we should or shall remain silent about an issue that impacts our communities and people we serve.

As President of BCALA, Inc., I stand firm in fulfilling my duty.  I remain committed to this organization and our profession. As a leader, one must decide to either lead or not.  This situation, as a leader, reminds me of a quote by the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige, and even his life for the welfare of others.”  The others, for me, are those on the Executive Board and those members who affirmed the need for me to speak up on behalf of BCALA, Inc.

As conversations develop with ALA Leadership, I will continue to update you.  Have a blessed day!

Jerome