To the Editor:
While l was sitting on our front steps handing out candy to the many trick or treaters who were hiking down South State Street last night, I noticed a change that has come to our community. Maybe it’s only a small change but it is a change. I moved to New Ulm in 1967 as a high school teacher. I noticed the lack of diversity almost immediately. I recall some study back then that stated something like New Ulm was the least culturally diverse city in Minnesota. I noticed it myself because l did not grow up here, and where l lived as a youngster I played basketball and baseball with African American and Puerto Rican boys. There were Asian, Black, and Hispanic kids in the schools I attended. Suddenly those groups were nowhere to be seen in our New Ulm schools.
During my more than 30 years of teaching, I had three African American kids in class and two of them were adopted kids who lived in white households. The third one lived with his aunt. But I know that New Ulm has been changing, but ever so slowly. Diversity has been kicked around by some people as an undesirable topic. Diversity is not just a matter of race, but also religion and life style. We know that diversity issues are constantly in the news across our country. And yes, also in New Ulm. However, what I noticed last night was a matter of race so I am only dealing with that topic. Last night I saw many Hispanic kids and they all seemed to speak perfect American English. I got “thank you” and not “gracias”. I saw happy parents of those same children who seemed so delighted to see their offspring having a good time. I know that a few of you are now thinking that many of those kids were brought into New Ulm only on Halloween for the goodies that are available on South State Street, but that is only somewhat the case.
I saw more African American kids and their parents last night than ever before. I exchanged a few words with some of the parents, and they too were so happy to see their kids having fun. A couple of those dads and I shared laughs about the craziness that was happening on South State.
I also saw a few Asian kids and their parents and what I stated before was also true of the good time they were enjoying. Yes, I saw changes in the diversity of New Ulm. I do think that New Ulm is no longer exactly the same community that l first saw in the 1960s. I have seen changes over my 55 years of living here and most of them have happened in recent years. I hope most of our city’s inhabitants are respectful of these changes and rejoice in the diversity that is now here in New Ulm.
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