03/19/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Olympic Bid is a Chance to Showcase Our Diversity

Chicago has been racking up historical milestones lately. Now, we can claim another one: The city formally submitting its bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games.

I'm a huge supporter of Chicago winning the bid to host the Games. According to a Chicago Tribune poll, I am among 64 percent of Chicagoans who are in favor of the Games. I believe there are more people like me in the African American community that would love nothing better than to seize the economic opportunities such a major event would bring to the city.

But frankly, in the months leading up to the bid Chicago 2016, the private entity created to shepherd the city's bid, has been slow to reach out to minority communities, particularly Black communities where many of the major venues would be held. Only now has 2016 begun to ramp up its community engagement in earnest as they prepare for a visit by members of the International Olympic Committee in April.

I do, however, applaud 2016 for recently expanding its Community Advisory Council to be more inclusive. They seem ready to roll up their sleeves and discuss how the Games could, and should, benefit minority communities on the South and West Sides. Still, it's troubling that after two years of holding fundraising dinners with the rich and members of the majority community, 2016 has yet to truly showcase one of the city's best assets - its diversity.

The failure, though, is not 2016's alone. African Americans who support the Games must reach out to show support and demand accountability. When Chicago first embarked on this historic journey, the voices of dissent were the first to arise out of the Black community, but we have yet to hear from Black supporters.

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