Diversity Week Cancelled

9/16/2001 8:00 PM Eastern

Last week was one our nation will mourn forever. Terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center and attacked the Pentagon, acts of barbaric hatred that none of us have ever witnessed on our own home soil.

Our hearts go out to all of the families who lost loved ones — whether innocents in those buildings, passengers on the hijacked planes or rescue workers who lost their lives to help save others.

We at Cahners Business Information are also mourning the loss of two employees who perished on hijacked American Airlines flight 11, which took down 1 World Trade Center. Jeff Mlandenik and Andrew Curry Green worked at eLogic Corp., the company that makes it possible for you to read Multichannel News

Closer to your world, New York was to have played host last week to a host of events centered around the annual Walter Kaitz Foundation dinner, a fundraiser held to promote diversity in the cable industry.

That dinner, which was to be held last Thursday, was cancelled along with NAMIC's Digital Media and Diversity conference, SkyForum, the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing New York chapter's Blue Ribbon breakfast and dozens of other meetings.

It was miraculous that — as best as we can tell — none of the several thousand cable executives who were en route to New York last Tuesday morning to attend those events became casualties in the sky.

Many of them were blessed with being booked for flights that left after 9 a.m. that morning, minutes after the first hijacked American Airlines plane rammed into tower one. Their flights were all cancelled.

But others who got to New York, like Kaitz president Art Torres, still had no idea as late as Friday when they would be returning home. Last Thursday, Torres cabbed down to a restaurant near our offices in New York, which are about one-and one-third miles north of what was once the bustling financial district. It is now a pile of ashes, with rescue workers feverishly trying to find survivors.

Torres' southbound ride to the restaurant was like a trip through a war zone. Reports of 90 different bomb scares during the lunch time hour had temporarily caused the evacuations of Grand Central Station, plus many businesses in the heart of midtown.

During our lunch, sirens wailed in the background as ambulances raced to the financial districts because there were new reports that several other buildings there were on the verge of collapse.

There were only a handful of us in this usually crowded, popular restaurant and only one waiter on duty. It was eerie talking about what the new role of the Kaitz Foundation would be, given the dreadful backdrop of the events of the week.

The Kaitz dinner has been cancelled this year, but the $1.58 million raised — which nearly matched last year's $1.6 million — will be doled out where it is sorely needed. With the fellowship program gone and a new system of grants put in its place, cable organizations and individual companies can apply for funds to accelerate diversity in the cable workplace.

Last week's unprecedented act of war by some highly sophisticated, fanatical terrorists is a harsh reminder to us all that we must not let such extreme intolerance and hatred of differences continue to exists. Instead, we must all embrace diversity.

We now have all gotten a brutal wake-up call as to what a scary place this world can be. We also all have an opportunity to prove that we can make it a better place, too.

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