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Reena Rose Sibayan / AP Photo

Integrated Services of Kalamazoo has won a new grant to help address teen suicide.


New Board To Fight Discrimination In Kalamazoo

Mar 1, 2021
The photo is a still from the meeting video. It shows a gallery view of nine Zoom participants, with an extra tile for the City of Kalamazoo logo
Sehvilla Mann / WMUK

The City of Kalamazoo’s Civil Rights Board met for the first time this fall. Its founding documents lay out a series of protections for renters and homeowners. But fighting housing discrimination is only part its mission.


Erin Lancour, a music therapy major in the viola studio at Western Michigan University's School of Music, and Haden Plouffe, a composer/pianist studying composition, recently began questioning whether their school was doing enough to expose them to and promote the work and performances of composers who aren't white, male, and deceased.  In a conversation with Cara Lieurance, Lancour and Plouffe explain that their spring rehearsal group was turned into an activist group by Tré Bryant, a Black composition student whose works they planned to perform before the shutdown occurred. With a list of objectives in place and only a few days to spare, they registered their group with the university, and called it the Dalton Diversity Directive.

Haden Plouffe took on the role of researcher. In the Maybee Music and Dance Library, he discovered that scores by Black composers like William Grant Still hadn't been checked out in over a decade. Plouffe plans to reconnect that resource back to students and professors, and make them aware of music by composers of color already in the stacks. For Erin Lancour, vice president of DDD,  bringing more LGBTQIA+ artists and composers of color to campus is a top priority.

Both Lancour and Plouffe agree they'd like the School of Music to move away from presenting all-Black or all-female "novelty" programs, and instead make diverse composers the norm, heard side-by-side with long-performed classical works. With help from faculty advisors Christopher Biggs and Yu-Lien The, they plan to pressure the teaching faculty into taking a critical look at their materials, broadening their teaching to include more composers of color and LGBTQIA+ identities. "Representation matters," says Plouffe.

OutFront Kalamazoo

Pride Month celebrating Kalamazoo's LGBTQ+ community starts Friday, June 12, a week later than originally planned.


A room full of people who are looking to the left out of the frame
Sehvilla Mann / WMUK

Kalamazoo Public Schools is reversing a controversial decision to leave books focusing on certain identities out of a reading initiative. The district is also apologizing for a statement that caused a public outcry.

Earlier this month, two concerned parents spoke to the school board. They’d heard that an effort to diversify KPS elementary classroom libraries would not include LGBTQ-centered books.


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