2008-08-22 Holland Sentinel "Celebrating unity - Community event supports local family, promotes diversity"

Celebrating unity - Community event supports local family, promotes diversity
The Holland Sentinel

The Robinson family of Park Township is dancing once again after an outpouring of support from neighbors, friends and strangers.

The Robinsons, a black family that lives on North Bristol Street, awoke Aug. 18 to find a racial slur painted on their driveway.

The Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance denounced the activity soon after and started an anti-racism pledge in the community.

More than 2,000 individuals, churches and businesses signed the document, the organization has said.

Hundreds of people then gathered at Kollen Park on Sunday afternoon to celebrate the area's diversity and encourage the Robinson family during a Community Unity Potluck.

"I think something beautiful has come out of it," said Darla Robinson as she stood by her husband, Avelock, at the event.
Throughout the potluck, Darla, Avelock and their children smiled and waved as they recognized people near the picnic tables at the park. Many families came by to give hugs, shake hands and see how they were doing. They often expressed regret and reassured the family that the incident that happened is not typical of the community, Avelock said.

A number of people spoke at the beginning of the potluck, which was followed by a series of cultural entertainment including dancing, drums and a gospel choir.

Residents brought a dish to pass and a few food booths were setup near the park's bandshell.

David Douglas of Park Township said the entertainment was outstanding and the blend of people was impressive. Attending the potluck was a no-brainer, he said.

"We have been longtime supporters of unity," he said.

Diversity leaders have said more events are planned to reflect the community consensus on the worth of diversity.

The Ottawa County Sheriff's Office continues to search for the suspects in a string of vandalism that included the graffiti at the Robinsons, which took place overnight between Aug. 17 and 18 in the North Bristol Street area. The Robinson's driveway is expected to be taken care of and sealed Monday, Sept. 22, he said.