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Staff writer

Camden Code Enforcer Travis Daniel served as the guest speaker for the recent Camden Kiwanis Club meeting at Catherine’s Bistro. Daniel was accompanied by Public Works Director Shamir Dorsey.

Daniel said that he was invited to the meeting by Kiwanian Mylinda Simpson and said that he wanted to speak about something other than a city project.

“So, we are going to do a series of experiments,” Daniel said as he invited Simpson to help him conduct the assessments.

Daniels did three scientific demonstrations; the first revolved around the concept of total reflection and fiber optics, the second showed how a gas mask works and the third involved carbon filament.

Daniels then presented a picture of himself on the projector next to an old bus.

The title of the presentation was titled, “How smart are you?”

Daniels then explained that each one of the demonstrations that he conducted during the meeting were made possible by the contributions of African Americans - two of which in the early 1900’s even before the civil rights movement.

Dr. Shirley Jackson was the contributor to the first demonstration. She was the first African American woman to earn a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institutes of Technology and to earn a National Medal of Science.

The second demonstration was made possible by Garrett Morgan. His “smoke hood” was used by himself and his brother to rescue a group of rescue fire fighters after a tunnel explosion under Lake Erie. The third contributor was Lewis Lattimer, who worked with Alexander Graham Bell to develop the telephone and patented an improved filament light bulb that is still used by General Electric today.

“All of these people made wonderful contributions to our society,” Daniel said. “They were also in an environment where there successors didn’t care that they were black people, didn’t care if they were men, and didn’t care that they were black women…In the scientific community, diversity was celebrated.”

“Think of people like onions, we’ve got red onions, green onions, yellow onions and white onions,” Daniel further explained. “The onions share so much in common with all its other species and varieties and the least of which that they have in common is their outside skin… Whatever level of leadership you achieve, we are all responsible for leading a diverse group of people. Embrace diversity.”

Daniel shared that a 2006 Tusk University study concluded that a diverse group of people is more innovative and productive and that companies that embrace diversity are more profitable.

“New and different ways of thinking will force you out of your box,” Daniel stated. “Force you out of your comfort zone. Make you think harder and work smarter.”

Daniel then used a scenario of creating a bus company with people who are just like him and explaining that it wouldn’t work because the bus company wouldn’t be for everyone. The group would need to take into account people with disabilities and get perspectives from financial donors.

Daniel closed his speech by saying:

“The more diversity we have, the more our eyes will be opened up to more ideas. Surround yourself with a diverse group of people. So I’m asking you, ‘how smart are you?’”

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