Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Subject: Regarding the recent article about your town in the New York Times

According to your city's website your slogan is "Small Town- Big Heart - New Image - New Direction". So please take a new direction and show some heart and the let the Fugees play soccer in your city's park.

I suspect my words will not move you since I am not one of your constituents so I am going to try to persuade you with a poem called “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

This poem is otherwise known as the "Statue of Liberty Poem".
Please let her light shine.

Mita Williams
Windsor, Ontario, Canada

1 comment:

Mita said...

I received this email in response:

January 26, 2007

Statement to the Citizens of Clarkston and the Media

from Mayor Lee Swaney

The City of Clarkston has received several emails expressing concern for the Fugees soccer team stemming from a recent New York Times article. There is a misconception that the Fugees team and soccer in general is banned in the City of Clarkston parks. Please be assured that this is not the case and the Fugees have been practicing on Armstead Field since October 2006.

The New York Times reporter repeatedly confuses Milam Park Field – which is dedicated to little league baseball and unsuitable for soccer - with Armstead Field which is where the Fugees continue to play. The only limitations we have ever placed on either Armstead Field or Milam Park field are to restrict the usage to children only.

We are deeply disappointed in the tone of Mr. St. John’s article. The report is factually inaccurate and several statements are taken out of context – apparently to present a more dramatic story and arrive at his own conclusions.

We are very proud of the Fugee’s success which is a positive outcome from Clarkston being among the most culturally diverse cities in Georgia. Our population is 55.7 % African American, 19.4% Caucasian, 12.6% Asian and 12.3% representing over 52 nationalities. Our diversity is also reflected in Clarkston’s City Council of six members with two African Americans and a Vietnamese refugee. I am delighted to see the recognition that Coach Mufleh and her team are receiving for their impressive success story. The Fugees represent the best of what the human spirit can accomplish by overcoming oppressive conditions in their native countries and coming together in their new community to achieve success through the power of sports and team work.

In October 2006, I encouraged Coach Luma Mufleh to attend a City Council meeting to request the use of Armstead Field for her soccer program. At that meeting, the Clarkston City Council unanimously approved her request to use Armstead Field for the remainder of this soccer season which is March 2007. Because of her program’s tremendous success and positive contribution to Clarkston, I see no reason it will not continue. In fact, Coach Mufleh will return to the February Council meeting to renew her agreement to use Armistead Field for another year.

In December, we did receive several complaints that groups of adult men were playing soccer on Armstead Field. This is a violation of the allowed use of the field. We tried to contact Coach Luma several times to determine if the men were affiliated with the Fugees. When she could not be reached, a letter was sent to the YMCA to put the program on hold until a newly hired sports coordinator was on board. I was then contacted by Coach Luma and she assured me the men were not affiliated with the Fugees Soccer Program. I immediately reinstated the use of Armstead Field for their practices.

Mayor Lee Swaney
City of Clarkston