On Tuesday, Feb. 13, Hope College will
host an area-wide summit designed to help remove racial
barriers in the community.
The all-day "Ottawa Area Summit on Racism" will
begin at 8 a.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel, and will
continue until 4 p.m. The event, sponsored by the Lakeshore
Ethnic Diversity Alliance, will include opening and closing
keynote addresses by two nationally known civil rights
leaders, as well as planning workshops for all participants.
The campus community is invited. Admission is
$15, including lunch.
The opening keynote address will be presented by
Dr. Gregory H. Williams, who is dean of the Ohio State
University College of Law and author of "Life on the Color
Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He was
Black." The closing keynote will be by Dr. Juan Andrade
Jr., who is president of the United States Hispanic
Leadership Institute in Chicago, Ill.
Williams, a law professor for 22 years, is
immediate past president of the Association of American Law
Schools. In 1999, he was named the first recipient of the
National Bar Association's "A. Leon Higginbotham Jr. Award
for Contributions to the Preservation and Promotion of Human
and Civil Rights." His best-selling autobiography has
received several awards and will be made into a movie.
Andrade has headed the United States Hispanic
Leadership Institute since 1982. The institute educates the
public about Hispanic issues and politics, trains public
officials in local development programs, advocates for
policies supported by Hispanics, and conducts research on
Hispanic social, economic and political demographics. He
has received a number of awards, and worked with government
and community leaders in Mexico and countries in Central and
South America and the Caribbean.
All who attend will be asked to participate in one
of the summit's seven workshops, which will focus on
business, community, education, faith communities,
government, health care and the media. The workshop teams
will develop strategies that can be put into action to
overcome racial barriers in the community.
"Creating an inclusive community depends on all of
us," said Gail Harrison, who is executive director of the
Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance (LEDA). "We will go
away from the summit knowing specific steps we can take to
make our towns places where all are respected and valued."
Ottawa County is becoming increasingly diverse as
a community. For example, between 1990 and 1998, the number
of Hispanics in the county increased more than 40 percent
while the Asian population jumped by more than 55 percent
and the African-American population grew by 30 percent.
The summit is the beginning of a five-year
initiative dedicated to fostering racial inclusion in the
Ottawa County area. The event follows town meetings held in
Holland and in Grand Haven on September 28 and November 2
respectively, and a related leadership conference held at
Hope on December 8.
Registration forms for the Tuesday, Feb. 13,
summit may be obtained by calling (616) 846-9074, or from
the event's web site.