Though much has been done to create equality and understanding within the local community, members of the Burbank Human Relations Council think more work still needs to be done.
This year marks the organization’s 60th anniversary, and to commemorate the milestone an exhibit documenting the various issues the group has tackled throughout the years is on display at the Geo Gallery in Glendale, 1545 Victory Blvd. It will be on display through the end of the year.
Marsha Ramos, first vice president of the Human Relations Council and former mayor of Burbank, said there are eight walls in the gallery that highlight some of the ways the organization has tried to instill equality in the community.
For example, there is a written piece documenting the time when two members of the group joined the last leg of the Selma-to-Montgomery march in 1965. There is also a flier from February 1960 when the organization held a discussion on the sociological issues surrounding prejudice.
Ramos, who has been a member for 40 years, added that the gallery also features a proclamation from the first Days of Remembrance event held in 1988. The annual ceremony began by commemorating the Holocaust and now includes the Armenian Genocide as well.
“It certainly has been an invaluable organization in my life and for the lives of many in Burbank,” Ramos said. She added that being a part of the Human Relations Council helped her during her time on the Burbank City Council.
While much has been done to make the city a better place to live, Ramos said there will always be a need to have a dialogue about an issue, such as the Armenian Genocide, and to celebrate diversity.
George Saikali, president-elect of the Human Relations Council, has been a member of the organization since 1997 and said that the stances the group took were not always popular in the community.
Though many in the organization have been longtime members, both Ramos and Saikali said it is time for a younger generation to continue the work that has been done the past 60 years.
“[The Human Relations Council] was really progressive when you think about it, with all the issues they were taking,” he said. “It’s probably easier now to understand those issues versus 20 to 25 years ago. They stand for things, and I think now more than ever, we need the Human Relations Council to get active again and address any hate crimes and make sure that we stand firm. This is not a place for hate.”