A place for all

August, 2020

Adirondack Diversity Initiative works to create a more inclusive park

By Gwendolyn Craig

Matt Hughey was at work in the North Country when a police officer pulled a gun on him. Hughey, a 29-year-old Black man raised in the Plattsburgh area, was about 19 at the time, working near his company truck and wearing a company uniform. A police officer approached him and asked Hughey for his identification.

There was no reason for the request, but Hughey obliged. He was about 300 feet away from his truck, and he told the officer it was in the vehicle. The officer pulled his car next to the company truck, opened his door, pulled out a firearm and pointed it at Hughey.

His white coworkers would take the same work route and had never had anything like that happen to them, Hughey said. The encounter ended without any physical harm done, but it’s a moment he will never forget.

“I feared for my life,” Hughey said.

The Adirondack Diversity Initiative aims to rewrite future stories like Hughey’s. The state-sponsored regional inclusion effort, in partnership with the Adirondack North Country Association, has begun a regional Antiracism Mobilization and Education Campaign.

Supporters hope to create a more welcoming environment in the state’s largest park and its rural communities. Five of the six counties where most Adirondack Park residents live were at least 90 percent white, non-Hispanic, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 population estimates.

Franklin County, which includes Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake but extends outside the park to the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation, was 82 percent white. The United States was 60 percent white, non-Hispanic; New York, 55 percent.

Read the full article in the Adirondack Explorer