2002-01-06 Holland Sentinel Racism summit organizers look at next step

Racism summit organizers look at next step
Holland Sentinel

In the past year, Lorna Hernandez Jarvis has witnessed the changes that have slowly taken place in Holland dealing with racism and the acceptance of other cultures.

And she has hope for the future.

The Hope College professor says the first-ever Ottawa Area Summit on Racism, held last year at Hope College, did a lot to move those changes along.

“People have done quite a lot of work since the summit last year and it’s starting to show,” she said. “Hopefully we’ll take what we’ve worked on all year and put it to good use this year when we meet again.”

The summit, put on by the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance, was designed to address minority issues within the community by coming up with a working plan to improve opportunities for minorities.

Last year attendees formed groups with business, community, education, faith, government, health care and the media.

Gail Harrison, executive director of the alliance, said last week that the groups are prepared to report their findings, and solutions at this year’s event, which is Tuesday, Feb. 12 at Hope.

“This year we’ll look at the results of that work and we’ll decide where to go from there.”

This year’s summit will feature speakers including legislators, journalists, educators and religious groups. Delivering the keynote address will be Ray Suarez, a Washington-based senior correspondent for The News House on PBS and former host of National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation.,

Suarez, is a Hispanic member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and founding member of the Chicago Association of Hispanic Journalists.

Also speaking will be State Rep. Paul DeWeese, Arab American journalist Karen Henry, and Les Lim, a Holland-born student at Michigan State University.

Organizers are making room for 800 this year after being forced to shut down registration last year at 650. Both Harrison and Jarvis were impressed by the shear number interested in attending last year.

“We were thrilled, but we just didn’t expect that many people,” Harrison said. “We weren’t prepared for that.”

“I was really impressed by how many from the community who genuinely wanted to talk about the issues,” Jarvis added. “And I was encouraged to see people from so many different areas show concern about this.”