Celebration honors city’s diversity

On a misty, chilly day yesterday, about a hundred people gathered on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway to mark the first Boston Race Amity Day Celebration, created to honor the city’s diverse population and promote closer ties between races and ethnic groups.

Karen Perry James, who drove from Plainville, Conn., with her 8-year-old daughter Brittney and Brittney’s friend Deana, said she thought the celebration was a novel way to promote unity.

“I think building friendships is a fundamental step in recognizing that we are all one,’’ she said.

James said she tries to teach her daughter that there are better ways to identify people besides their race.

“If we must label people, let’s categorize people by how bright their light shines,’’ she said. “I don’t think we need to ignore culture, but I do think we need to ignore hue.’’

Musicians, dancers, and other performers from many backgrounds entertained the crowd while showcasing the state’s diverse culture.

The man behind the celebration, William “Smitty’’ Smith, executive director of the National Center for Race Amity, which is based at Wheelock College in Boston, said the day gave those who attended a chance to meet people of different races, a simple yet crucial first step for better race relations.

“We have to create opportunities for people to come together and that is what this is,’’ Smith said.

Smith said he and others are trying to have the second Sunday in June declared National Race Amity Day, and plan to hold the celebration in Boston annually.

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