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Friendship Council returns from summer hiatus

“Sin Fronteras” dancers entertained members of the Friendship Council at the group’s June meeting earlier this year celebrating the heritage of all members of the community. The Friendship Council resumes its monthly meetings Sept. 10. (photo submitted)

“Sin Fronteras” dancers entertained members of the Friendship Council at the group’s June meeting earlier this year celebrating the heritage of all members of the community. The Friendship Council resumes its monthly meetings Sept. 10. (photo submitted)

The Thermal Belt Friendship Council will resume its normal meeting time starting Tuesday, Sept. 10 at 6 p.m., at Roseland Community Center.

The Friendship Council meets the second Tuesday of each month at Roseland Community Center (intersection of East Howard and Peake Streets, Tryon) to promote racial unity, diversity and inclusiveness. The organization takes a hiatus during the months of June, July and August following its annual community picnic.

The community picnic this past June featured food, socializing and a wonderful traditional Mexican folk dance group “Sin Fronteras” (Without Borders) from Asheville, N.C. Approximately 200 local residents from Tryon, Saluda, Green Creek and Landrum attended the event. The community picnic is the culminating event of the Friendship Council’s annual events. Events include workshops on diversity and inclusiveness, health and wellness, financial planning, as well as community outreach. The Friendship Council annual events include Christmas caroling at White Oak Manor, a Christmas community potluck, as well as its Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration where the organization presents a Martin Luther King Jr. scholarship to a graduating high school senior.

The Friendship Council also meets once a month for lunch at a local restaurant. Dr. Joseph Fox, Friendship Council President, said, “The purposes of the monthly lunches are two-fold. First, it is to promote the visibility of members of our community – black, white and Hispanic – coming together throughout the community as one big family. The second purpose of the lunches is to promote local entrepreneurs.”

Dr. Fox also said the Friendship Council supports diversity programs of the Tryon Fine Arts Center, as well as the diverse movies shown at the Tryon Theater.

“A group of Friendship Council members attended the showing of “Red Tails” and “42” when they played at the Tryon Theater,” he said. “Members often will attend such movies as a group on Saturday evenings and/or during the Sunday showing. It is our effort to show local businesses and organizations that we endorse their diversity initiatives.”

Membership in the Thermal Belt Friendship Council is free. No membership fees are collected from its members. Much of the organization’s outreach, programs and workshops have been supported financially through the Polk County Community Foundation, St. Luke Hospital and local businesses.

The organization was founded in the late 1980s in response to a march by the KKK in Tryon. Black and white residents protested in a nonviolent fashion by staying away from downtown Tryon during the march. Those members that were present turned their backs to the KKK as they marched down Main Street.

For additional information related to the Thermal Belt Friendship Council, visit friendshipcouncil.homestead.com.

– article submitted by Lynnea Stadelman