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"Calling All Colors" Racial
Unity Conference Meets at Hope

Posted October 17, 2000

HOLLAND -- For a second time in as many years, Hope College was host to the "Calling All Colors" racial unity conference of the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance.

Nearly 200 students from 12 Ottawa and Muskegon county middle schools came together on Tuesday, Oct. 17, during the conference for diversity dialogues and activity workshops. The purpose of the event, now in its fifth year, was to increase students' awareness of stereotyping and its effects, to offer a safe place to discuss feelings about race and race relations, to learn about different points of view and to expose students to a college campus.

Ortencia Ruiz, conference coordinator, said that teens at previous conferences have called the event "awesome, cool, educational"; others said that they appreciated "being around many kinds of people and having fun, getting a chance to express our ideas and get them out in the open."

To give the young teens a global perspective, international students at Hope led music, games and dance workshops demonstrating aspects of their cultures. The keynote speaker will be Rick Muniz, who is principal of Longfellow Elementary School in Holland. D. Wesley Poythress, assistant dean for multicultural life at Hope, welcomed students to the conference.

After the conference the students will work on racial harmony action plans at their own middle schools. They will attend a follow-up conference on Monday, April 30, at Grand Valley State University in Allendale.

The Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance, formerly known as the North Ottawa Ethnic Diversity Alliance, is a grassroots group that works to promote racial harmony through education, advocacy, support networks and celebrations. The alliance began organizing the area's "Calling All Colors" conference in 1996.

Hosts for the event were Hope's Office of Multicultural Life and the Office of the Provost. Support for the event was provided by the college and a number of area companies and organizations.

The middle schools participating in "Calling All Colors" were: Holland East; Macatawa Bay, West Ottawa; Lakeshore, Grand Haven; White Pines, Grand Haven; Spring Lake; Muskegon Heights; Bunker, Muskegon; Steele, Muskegon; Reeths-Puffer, Muskegon; Fruitport; St. Mary Catholic, Spring Lake; and Black River, Holland. -30-


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