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Interviews with news makers and discussion of topics important to Southwest Michigan. Subscribe to the podcast through Apple itunes and Google. Segments of interview are heard in WestSouthwest Brief during Morning Edition and All Things Considered

WSW: Summit on Racism Turns 10

Southwest Michigan Black Heritage Society

The Summit on Racism, an important annual event that examines racial issues, marks a milestone. It turns 10 years old. Organizers proudly say the Summit's done more than just talk about needed change, but led to some in the Kalamazoo area. They hope to continue that tradition with the next Summit set for Friday, Nov. 14th.

Planning Committee members Donna Odom and Cheree Thomas recently joined WMUK's Earlene McMichael on WestSouthwest to talk about the event's past and its future. Odom is executive director of the Southwest Michigan Black Heritage Society, whose Racial Healing Initiative takes over lead coordination this year of the Summit from longtime sponsor the YWCA of Kalamazoo. Thomas is the Y's director of Women's Services for domestic violence, as well as board chair of the Black Heritage Society.

Credit Southwest Michigan Black Heritage Society
2013 Summit on Racism

With the theme of "Empowering Ourselves to Transform Our Community," the idea behind the 10th Annual Summit on Racism is for participants to leave with anti-racism strategies they could implement within their own institutions, both Odom and Thomas say. So, for the second year, attendees will hear a panel discussion with a variety of voices rather than a single speaker, then break up into small groups for further dialogue and brainstorming on action plans in the areas of employment, education and housing. Each group will be facilitated by a Summit Planning Committee member with panelists acting as resource people.

This year's panelists are representatives from the Whirlpool Corporation, Kalamazoo County Mental Health and Open Doors, an ecumenical drop-in center in Kalamazoo. They will be sharing strategies on how they celebrate diversity and work to eradicate institutional racism in their organizations.

The Summit on Racism is planned for 7:30 a.m. to noon on Friday, Nov. 14th at the YWCA of Kalamazoo, at 353 E. Michigan Ave. in downtown Kalamazoo. It is free and open to the public. Advance pre-registrations are requested by Nov. 7th by calling (269) 381-9775 or emailing On-site registrations will be accepted as space permits.

Extended interview with Donna Odom & Cheree Thomas

The Racial Healing Initiative of the Southwest Michigan Black Heritage Society is hosting the Summit on Racism in collaboration with the YWCA of Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo County Community Action Agency, Michigan Department of Civil Rights and the Kalamazoo Valley Museum