Paducah and McCracken County will soon garner statewide attention in consecutive months -- and for all the right reasons.

Our community, home to the state's second-biggest NAACP chapter, is scheduled to host the Kentucky State NAACP Convention from Sept. 13-15.

Roughly three weeks later, the Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce will host the first of five forums in what could be the ugliest -- and perhaps most important -- gubernatorial race in state history. The local forum between Gov. Matt Bevin and Attorney General Andy Beshear will be at 11:30 a.m. Oct. 3 at the Julian Carroll Convention Center, and will be broadcast live by WSPD Local 6.

That Paducah and McCracken were chosen for the two events is an honor for our community and a compliment to the local organizers who pushed to make the community the host site.

A letter from the state NAACP that announced Paducah as the convention's host described the importance of the state convention. It stresses the NAACP's desire to help mend the current national climate of highly-charged race relations.

"We are living in a time where political divisiveness, attacks on civil rights, and dysfunctional government are threatening the equality and justice for many Americans," State NAACP Conference President Raoul Cunningham wrote. "For over 110 years the NAACP has fought the good fight for justice.

"The NAACP branches of Kentucky are actively striving to ensure that Kentucky will be a place of equality for all citizens. The NAACP continues to do its great work. That work, however, cannot be done without your help."

Chamber President Sandra Wilson outlined to The Sun the significance of the local event featuring the governor and his longtime political rival. They're vying to lead a state government besieged by one of the worst pension crises in the country.

"We're very excited to have this opportunity to host this," Wilson said. "I think it's a great chance for people in west Kentucky to be able to see the candidates in person and hear from them. This is the only one in western Kentucky and the only one sponsored by a chamber."

While both events are indeed a positive reflection on our community, they also represent an opportunity and a responsibility for local residents, the editorial board contends.

That is, not only are we obligated to be welcoming hosts, we should also be well-represented with participants, helping shape the national discussion about race for the NAACP, and becoming the most informed voters in Kentucky in choosing the next governor.

A good turnout by local residents for both events will reinforce Paducah was the right choice for two important events with state implications.

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