2005-02-06 Lakeshore Press Dean of law school to speak at summit

Dean of law school to speak at summit
Lakeshore Press

Holland – There were 426 people from 72 nations who took the oath of American citizenship two weeks ago in Holland.

Citizenship is open to virtually anyone willing to learn how US democracy works, yet the process of designating “who’s in” automatically defines some people as “out.”

Trouble is, many Asian-Americans are regarded as foreigners even if they never have been aboard and English is the only language they speak, says Frank H. Wu, dean of the Wayne State University Law School in his hometown of Detroit.

Wu, a leading voice in the Asian-American community, will give the keynote address, “Building Coalitions across Racial Boundaries,” at the fifth annual Ottawa Summit ton Racism, to be held Feb 15 at Hope College. Registration continues through Tuesday.

The presentation will examine the notion of citizenship in its highest forms and explore how working in diverse groups can improve conditions and expand opportunities for all peoples.

More than 2,000 people have attended the first four Summits on Racism, developing action plans to build racial inclusion and unity in six important areas: business, education, faith, government, and health care.

This extended dialogue has generated “unparalleled momentum toward a better understanding of the significant issues related to racial diversity,” said Gail Harrison, executive director of the Diversity Alliance, a chief organizer of the summit.

Before accepting his position at Wayne State in July, Wu was a member of the law faculty at Howard University in Washington DC, one of the nations’ best-known historically black colleges.

Wu is the author of two books, “Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White” and “Rights and Reparation: Law and the Japanese American Internment.”

He also has been published extensively in newspapers and journals.

Of particular interest among the six planned breakout sessions will be a dialogue on how to improve minority graduation rates led by Percy Bates, a professor of education at the University of Michigan and direction of the Program for Educational Opportunity.

Statistics show that Michigan has the most racially segregated public schools and one of the highest minority dropout rates in the country.

Twenty local organizations, agencies, and churches are collaborating with LEDA on the summit, which is supported financially by two dozen foundations, businesses, faith communities and learning organizations.