PCHR routinely serves as a stopping point for foreign visitors looking to exchange ideas and solutions, and Tuesday was no different when Maguy Salomon dropped by to swap experiences with commissioners and key PCHR staff.
Salomon serves on 65-member council that manages Nantes, the sixth-largest city in France, a youthful, arts-and-letters locale on the western side of the country. She also directs the Louis Delgres Cultural Center, which focuses on advancing diversity and celebrating the region’s contemporary Franco-African culture and society.
Nantes also has a significant history in the 18th century French-African slave trade, leaving a rich multicultural imprint even through today. A number of residents can point to historical and contemporary African and Caribbean roots, as the city remains an attractive immigration destination. Violent actions by disaffected North African Muslims in Nantes have grabbed headlines in recent months.
Issues of identity and inclusion among people of color are not exclusive to the United States or foreign to France, Salomon said.
With a capable translator and guide from Citizen Diplomacy International of Philadelphia, Salomon also made stops at the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant and Multicultural Affairs, the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians, the Anti-Defamation League and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to round out her trip and understanding of the city and its people.
“It was a fascinating exchange,” Commissioner Saadiq Jabbar Garner said. “Even when there were times we could not find the exact words, I could feel her. I knew what she was talking about. That we could share that bond, share ideas on things to try, what has worked for us and what hasn’t, just heightens the relevance of this commission.”