2000-07-12 The Holland Sentinel "Forums against racism planned for fall"

Forums against racism planned for fall
The Holland Sentinel

Ottawa County citizens will speak up about racism during two town meetings and a leadership conference planned for this fall.

A group of organizers discussed Tuesday night in a meeting at Hope College how the preparatory events in September and November will spur the community's vision for the Feb. 13, 2001, Ottawa Area Summit on Racism.

Dave Farabee, a member of the leadership and summit program committee, said panelists at the Grand Haven and Holland town meetings will ask community members how racism affects them.

Panelists will be present to translate and facilitate discussion.

The south town meetings will be at 6:30p.m. Sept. 28 at St. Francis Parish Ministry Center at 195 W. 13th St.

The north town meetings will be at 10 a.m. Nov. 2 at the Grand Haven Outreach Church at 17 S. Second St.

"There are people here who talk to people who have difficulties every day," said Farabee after the meetings

Gail Harrison, summit organizer and executive director of the North Ottawa Ethnic Diversity Alliance at Grand Haven,
said the meetings will reach a cross section of the county population. She said minorities as well as Caucasians will comment at the meetings.

Harrison will brings the results of the meetings to a Dec. 8 leadership conference.

She said the conference will discuss what Ottawa County "would look like without racism."
The leaders will try to find  out where the racial barriers are in the different sectors of the community.

"When leaders hear the concerns, there is going to be a natural desire to eliminate those barriers. ... They will help us envision what a racism-free Ottawa would look like." Harrison said.

Farabee said the conference will pinpoint what action needs to be taken.

"The leaders will ask, 'What are we going to tackle in our community this year?'" Farabee said.