2002-02-14 Grand Haven Tribune Taking steps toward racial harmony

Taking steps toward racial harmony
Grand Haven Tribune

Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance officials are on the right track in the struggle against racism. The alliance, in collaboration with Latin Americans United for Progress, The Alliance of Cultural and Ethnic Harmony and C.O.B.B. Community Outreach, Tuesday sponsored its second annual Summit on Racism I Holland.

While attendance declined at his year’s summit-100 fewer participants than last year-interest in taking steps to combat racism still is running high. The alliance, under the leadership of Executive Director Gail Harrison and alliance board President David Rhem, has done a remarkable job of getting community members involved with diversity issues.

This Tuesday’s summit was the second of five planned summits. One year ago, a five-year plan was developed to promote racial harmony. From the looks of it, the alliance is well on its way toward achieving that goal. Even Ray Suarez, the keynote speaker and senior correspondent for PBS’s news show, “The NewsHour,” is impressed with the work of the alliance. He said the organization has taken a step in the right direction in promoting racial harmony without a major incident of racism to spur people on.

As they did at the first summit, participants were placed on different action teams. Some teams already have plans in place to promote racial harmony. For example, an action team from the community sector already has set up a complaint line for people who believe they have been denied housing because of their race. The summit is a great way to stimulate interest in racial harmony.

Alliance officials recognize that there is still much work to be done. One of the organization’s goals is to get more involvement from the northern end of the county. We’re confident that the alliance will reach that goal. You only have to listen to the speakers to realize that racism is still a major problem in the United States. Hopefully, those who attended the summit will continue to map strategies and to spread the word for the need for racial harmony.

Through the efforts of the alliance and other organizations, Ottawa County is well on its way in the fight against racism.