Kalamazoo Joins National Day of Healing That Has Local Roots

Jan 12, 2017

Lanna Lewis, of the Kalamazoo Community Foundation, and Jacob Pinney-Johnson, of the Society of History and Racial Equity.
Credit Earlene McMichael / WMUK

Next Tuesday, a National Day of Healing debuts, and Kalamazoo is among the communities across the country holding events. In Kalamazoo, local organizations are partnering with the Kalamazoo Community Foundation to show and discuss "America Divided," a documentary exploring inequities in education, housing, healthcare, labor, criminal justice and the political system. (Click on the icon to listen now).  


On today's WestSouthwest public-affairs show, event organizers tell WMUK's Local Morning Edition Host Earlene McMichael that they were inspired to convene the public discussion titled "Stories That Unite Us" after attending a racial healing summit in December in California.

The summit was called by the Battle Creek-based W.K. Kellogg Foundation to kick off its Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation long-term initiative that seeks to eradicate structural racism. At the summit, a National Day of Healing was called for Jan. 17, 2017. The more than 550 attendees representing 130-plus groups involved with racial equity were asked to hold a healing event in their own communities on that day. 

They really felt it was necessary we need do something now -- we need to start somewhere and start soon.

Lanna Lewis, a community investment manager at the Kalamazoo Community Foundation, and Jacob Pinney-Johnson, coordinator of marketing and outreach for SHARE (Society for History and Racial Equity), were guests on WestSouthwest today to talk about the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation efforts and Kalamazoo's upcoming free showing and discussion of "America Divided."

Lewis says summit participants believed the nation was especially in need of healing after the recent presidential election, which they saw as fostering divisiveness.

"So they really felt it was necessary we need do something now -- we need to start somewhere and start soon," Lewis tells McMichael. "The urgency was pressing. And so they called on all of us that was there to go ahead and put on an event in coordination with this Day of Healing, so that we could all kind of get started and get grounded before the inauguration and after (Martin Luther) King Day. They felt that was a really important time for everyone."

The "Stories That Unite Us" event is scheduled for 5:30-8 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 17 at the Epic Center, at 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, in downtown Kalamazoo. Advance registration has been closed due to reaching seating capacity, but individuals may sign up for the waiting list, according to the Kalamazoo Community Foundation. (Note: The "America Divided" documentary can be viewed online. Click here.)

The program is sponsored by the Fair Housing Center of Southwest Michigan, SHARE, ISAAC (Interfaith Strategy for Advocacy and Action in the Community), Black Arts & Cultural Center, Arcus Center for Social Justice LeadershipERACCE (Eliminating Racism & Claiming/Celebrating Equity), the Michigan Immigration Rights Center and the Kalamazoo Community Foundation.

Both Lewis and Pinney-Johnson say more racial healing events are expected in the future.

WestSouthwest airs at 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays on WMUK, an NPR station, at 102.1 on the FM dial.