2008-02-26 Holland Sentinel "Summit on racism will return May 20 with new name, focus"

Summit on racism will return May 20 with new name, focus

The Holland Sentinel

Five of the 10 most racially segregated cities in America are in Michigan, according to local diversity experts.

This reality has caused social and economic decline in cities, including some in West Michigan, and has actually limited the potential of surrounding suburbs as well.

The issue was a force behind the Ottawa Area Summits on Racism held at Hope College annually from 2001 to 2005.

After a five-year run, the event's sponsoring group, Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance, decided to move on to other projects.

However, the Holland-based group received many requests to revive the summit.

So on May 20, the event will return with a new name -- Lakeshore Region Summit on Racism -- and a new focus, "our future depends on inclusion."

"A lot had changed in our community since the last summit had ended," said Chuck Green, a professor at Hope College.

Green and Gail Harrison, executive director of the alliance, both spoke about the summit at the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council meeting Monday.

They asked the group to collaborate with them for the summit and the committee agreed. Harrison said the alliance was effective on a small level but needed a much bigger approach like the MACC.

"We must engage leaders," Harrison said. "Without you, we will not be effective."