2005-02-04 Grand Haven Tribune Final racism Summit Feb. 15

Final racism Summit Feb. 15
Grand Haven Tribune

The fifth annual Ottawa Area Summit on Racism will mark both an end and a new beginning of local efforts to confront and heal racism, summit organizers say.

Planned for Tuesday, Feb. 15, this will be the final summit, but numerous community programs will continue and possibly expand, said Gail Harrison, executive director of the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance (LEDA), the summit’s sponsor.

“The Summit process has gone through its evolution and we’re really pleased with the results,” Harrison said, explaining that the summit model was designed as a five-year process.

Since the summit’s beginning, Harrison said, the strategies and action plans that have been developed at the annual event have taken on a life of their own, becoming community groups, programs and initiatives. And numerous people have found ways to become activists for racial equality, she said.

“I don’t think anybody can say today that they don’t know what to do if they really want to work to eliminate racial barriers,” Harrison said.

A total of more than 2,000 people attended the first four summits in Holland.

And Harrison said that LEDA is pleased to see a strong interest in this final summit.

“The registrations are coming in very fast. It’s really the earliest we’ve seen this kind of registration in a few years,” she said.

Over 200 people are currently registered and Harrison said she is hoping for about 300 or 400 more.

Registrations are due by Tuesday, either online at www.ethnicdiversity.org or by mail to LEDA, 287 Lincoln Ave, Holland, MI 49423. However, while early registrations help with the planning process, Harrison said that registrations will be accepted up to the day of the event and at the door.

The summit will run from 8:30am to 2:45pm and will include lunch and a resource fair. It begins and closes at Dimnent Memorial Chapel, College Ave and 12th Street, in Holland.

The cost is $20 with lunch and $10 without. All accommodations are barrier-free, and interpreters are available with one week notice.

This year’s keynote address, “Building Coalitions Across Racial Boundaries,” will be given by Frank H. Wu, dean of the Wayne State University Law School in Detroit since July 2004 and a former law faculty member at Howard University, Washington, D.C., one of the country’s best known historically black colleges.

Wu, and Asian American who grew up in Detroit, is author of “Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White” and “Rights and Reparation: Law and the Japanese American Internment.” As well as many newspaper and journal articles.

Harrison said that the summit will begin with a look back at what has been accomplished over last five years.

“You have to celebrate your success,” she explained. “You have to take a moment and step back and say look at all we’ve accomplished.”

Six workshops will also be offered, including:
  • Business: Supplier diversity
  • Community: Comfortable communities for diverse populations
  • Education: Improving minority graduation rates
  • Faith: The role of the faith community in healing the racial divide
  • Government: Ensuring diverse neighborhoods – a regional approach
  • Health Care: Eliminating disparities in health care – first steps
But while previous summits have concluded with participants sharing action plans for defeating racism in the future, Harrison said that there will be no action plans developed at this final summit.

Instead, she said, participants will attend a resource fair, where they will be able to find out from various community groups and organizations what opportunities are available and how they can get involved.

Harrison added that the summit participants will also be surveyed on what they would like to see from LEDA in the future, such as conferences or educational opportunities.

Twenty local organizations, agencies, and churches are collaborators in the summit, which is hosted by Hope College and supported financially by two dozen foundations, businesses, banks, universities, churches and other entities.