Holland anti-racism forum continues response
after racial slur left at couple's home
BY GREG CHANDLER
The Grand Rapids Press
HOLLAND -- Avelock and Darla Robinson marvel at how people have rallied to support them, more than two months
after a racial slur was spray painted in the driveway of their Park Township home.
"They've comforted us and reminded us that what we saw is not held by the wider community," said
Avelock Robinson, an assistant production manager at Consumers Energy's J.H. Campbell power plant.
The Robinsons, who are black, say greater education is needed, particularly among young people, to help
change attitudes. They were encouraged by the response for an anti-racism forum that drew nearly 70 people
Thursday to Crossroad Chapel.
"I'm glad people are interested in learning how we can change the community together," Darla Robinson said.
The forum, which was put together by the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance, is part of a continuing community
response to the August incident. It has included a campaign that resulted in more than 3,000 people signing
an anti-racism pledge, which was published in local newspapers.
"You had an issue, and people rallied. People pulled together," said Mark Bishop, a training specialist for the
Michigan Department of Civil Rights, who called the area's response in support of the Robinsons "unique."
Bishop called for people to speak out when they see a hate crime or other racially-motivated incident, even if it's
not against someone of their own race.
"When it's not your issue, that's when you're most needed," he said.
Several members of the JustFaith class from St. Francis deSales Catholic Church came to the forum.
Sister Pat Lamb, who leads the class, says she's heard numerous stories of racism from people who
attend her church, which has a large Hispanic concentration.
"It breaks my heart that children have to go through it," Lamb said. "It's not fair. Children don't deserve it."
No arrests have been made in connection with the Robinsons' incident, despite a reward that remains available.
Ottawa County sheriff's detectives say while the investigation continues, they have not received significant leads.
"We're continuing to keep those avenues (of communication) open," sheriff's Lt. Mark Bennett said.