Summit on Racism

The Society for History and Racial Equity (SHARE), with the support of the Kalamazoo Valley Community College and its Kalamazoo Valley Museum, the Kalamazoo Public Library and others, will present a virtual Summit on Racism November 12 – 14. Registration for the virtual Summit, which will be accessed through Zoom, runs through Nov. 3. See the SHARE website at and the Kalamazoo Valley Museum website at for more information.

The Summit on Racism aims to educate the community on issues of racial inequity through testimonials from current activists and conversations with participants. Given this year’s pandemic and racial unrest, organizers sought sessions addressing health disparities and police reform.

The pre-summit event, “A Conversation with Dr. Abdul El-Sayed,” begins at 4:30 p.m. on November 10. Abdul El-Sayed is a physician, epidemiologist and progressive activist who is the former Health Director for the City of Detroit and candidate for Governor of Michigan.

The keynote presentation, with an introduction by Rita Raidchadhouri, Phd, Superintendent of Kalamazoo Public Schools, begins at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 12. Main speaker Jesse Hagopian, award-winning educator and a leading voice on issues of educational equity, the school-to-prison-pipeline, standardized testing, the Black Lives Matter at School movement, and social justice unionism, will talk at 7 p.m.

“Training for Effective Policing” with Victor Ledbetter, Director Law Enforcement Academy and Training, Kalamazoo Valley Community College, will be held as a breakout session from 11:10 a.m. to noon on Friday, Nov. 13.

“At Kalamazoo Valley Community College, we consider the rich diversity of our students, faculty and staff to be an asset,” said college President L. Marshall Washington, Ph.D. “Decades of research have shown that diversity, nurtured in a welcoming and respectful environment, encourages critical thinking, reduces harmful stereotypes, and strengthens the ability to communicate, work and play across lines of identity and difference. These 21st century competencies are essential skills for our students to master during their time on our campus and in this globally connected world.”

For 16 years, Kalamazoo’s Summit on Racism has offered a unique and important venue to bring the community together for open dialogue regarding race and to create solutions to eradicate racism. This year’s summit occurs at a moment in our history that is particularly significant, not because the issues have changed, but because the events of 2020 have caused more people to become actively engaged. “The college and the Kalamazoo Valley Museum have collaborated with SHARE in the past and we believe that our sponsorship of the Summit this year will help demonstrate our commitment to creating an environment, both on campus and off, where all students can learn and achieve their full potential,” said Director of college Diversity and Inclusion, Trice Batson.

Donna Odom, the Executive Director of SHARE, stated, “In these challenging times, as we face a pandemic that impacts people of color more than any other group, an economic collapse, and the acknowledgement of the endemic racism that exists in America, we hope to provide not only an opportunity for learning and exchanging ideas, but ideas and inspiration for personal and community change and transformation.”

Participants of the Summit are from wide backgrounds, and the sessions will also foster general cultural competence among and between groups. The goals are to replace white privilege with multiculturalism as the dominant paradigm and eliminate Institutional Racism by changing systems that perpetrate racism.

In addition to the conversations and keynote speakers featured, there will also be several video shorts, produced by local Kalamazoo-area residents, premiered during the Summit. The videos are on a variety of subjects related to race and healing.
A grant from the Kalamazoo Valley Community College Foundation supported the project with StoryCenter, an organization that pioneered the Digital Storytelling methodology of participatory media creation and has since taught hundreds of workshops around the world.

For more information, visit