CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Recently, in the span of just a few days, I enjoyed the great pleasure of witnessing the beginning steps of two state initiatives I have strongly supported, and for which I hold high hopes.
While on the surface, the pending opening of the Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs and the introduction of a new statewide Business Court Division seem unrelated, both carry tremendous potential to move West Virginia's economy and quality of living forward.
And both build upon the concept that an effective government cannot be one-size-fits-all, but must continually adjust to its residents' changing needs.
Several years ago, when the establishment of a Minority Affairs Office was proposed, I must admit my first reaction was simply excitement at the opportunity to honor the memory of my good friend, Herb Henderson. Herb, who is from my home district, was a tireless civil rights advocate, an outstanding attorney and a generous spirit -- someone I admired, loved and miss a great deal.
But after further considering the concept of a center focused on maintaining a meaningful dialogue about the issues facing West Virginia's minorities -- and after talking at length to the legislation's lead sponsor, Delegate Clif Moore -- I became convinced this office was not only needed, but long overdue.
All West Virginians should have a voice and every West Virginian should have access to the same opportunities. That is what is right and fair.
In addition, the state as a whole benefits. Those who add diversity to our society also contribute greatly economically, socially and culturally. Everyone prospers.
The House of Delegates has adopted legislation to create such an office every year since 2008. Finally, this year the full Legislature passed House Bill 4015, and last week Carolyn Stuart was appointed director of the Huntington-based office. I wish her the utmost success and look forward to learning from the work of the Herbert Henderson center.