2004-03-06 Grand Haven Tribune Summit on Racism planned Saturday March 20

Summit on Racism planned Saturday March 20
Grand Haven Tribune

Affirmative action, the economic case for workplace diversity, and successful West Michigan programs to break down racial barriers will be the focus of the 4th annual Ottawa Area Summit on Racism on March 20.

For the first time, the Summit, the fourth in a five-year process, will be held on Saturday. Gail Harrison, summit coordinator and executive director of the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance, said the Saturday date was chosen to give more people the opportunity to attend the Summit, which will take place on the Hope College campus.

“We wanted to ensure that anybody in the community that was interested in addressing racial justice issues could have that opportunity,” she said.

Next year, Harrison said the summit will focus on what has been accomplished as a result of summits from the previous four years.

“Some initiatives from the summit have taken on a life of their own,” she said.

Twenty Ottawa area churches and organizations are collaborating in this year’s Summit.

Paul N. Courant, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of Michigan, will speak in the morning on “Crossing the Boundaries of Race in America: The Role of Affirmative Action.”

Courant was part of the university’s team that worked on recent admissions lawsuits that ultimately were decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003.

In the afternoon, Sylvester Murray, professor of urban studies and director of the Urban Center’s Public Management Program at Cleveland State University in Ohio, will discuss “Racial Polarization: An Impediment to Economic Development.”

Murray will consider questions such as whether West Michigan can thrive economically eithout embracing its diversity and if economic development and social equity work in tandem.

In sexi morning workshops on business, community, education, faith communities, government and health care, leaders of area organizations will share their best practices for building inclusive systems, talking about their programs, obstacles, and successes along the way.

In the afternoon, Summit participants will use the morning workshop information to help design strategies for building more inclusive organizations and systems in the Ottawa area. A resource center of books and materials will be in the Maas Canter on campus over the lunch hour.

Registration for the Summit is now open. The cost is $20 if lunch is included, or $20 without lunch. Registration and payment can be accomplished online at www.ethnicdiversity.org.