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Kalamazoo’s Brown & Black Healing and Unity Weekend

The last weekend in October, ISAAC, El Concilio, and TRHT (Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation) co-sponsored Kalamazoo’s Black & Brown Unity and Healing and TRutH Talks events, for a powerful weekend of shared history, synergies, healing, truth telling, sharing of our stories and future brainstorming. We want to extend a special thank you to our speakers (day 1), Dr. Rubén O. Martinez and Dr. Michelle S. Johnson and racial healing facilitator (day 2), Ed Genesis. A special thank you to Dr. Martinez for his Brown and Black research and work in Lansing that has served as a catalyst for our work in Kalamazoo. Thank you to all who attended! We are excited to continue equity work and healing together!

Please read mini biographies of our guest speakers below:

Dr. Rubén O. Martinez is professor of sociology and director of the Julian Samora Research Institute at Michigan State University. His research interests include neoliberalism and Latinos, diversity leadership in higher education, institutional and societal change, education and ethno- racial minorities, youth development, Latino labor and entrepreneurship, and environmental justice. Dr. Martinez is the editor of the Latinos in the United States book series with the Michigan State University Press. He has numerous publications, including three co-authored books: Chicanos in Higher Education (1993), Diversity Leadership in Higher Education (2007), and A Brief History of Cristo Rey Church in Lansing, MI (2012); one edited volume, Latinos in the Midwest (2011); and two co-edited volumes: Latino College Presidents: In Their Own Words (2013), and Occupational Health Disparities among Racial and Ethnic Minorities: Formulating Research Needs and Directions (2017).

Michelle S. Johnson PhD, serves across Michigan as a public scholar in the fields of African American history, literature and cultural production.  As a professor, Johnson applies her identity as a public scholar in cultural studies and creates programs and classroom environments that provided significant academic skills while retaining and encouraging students to think critically and creatively.  As the co-founder/Executive Director of Fire Historical and Cultural Arts Collaborative for 10/7 years, Johnson managed multiple initiatives where numerous layers across widely diverse populations intersect.  Under her leadership, this Kalamazoo arts and cultural non-profit came to serve as the go-to organization for emerging artists and cultural producers, best practices in youth development and creative social justice. Dr. Johnson’s scholarship includes an oral history project on the lives of African Americans and Latino/as in Saginaw, Michigan and a community project in Loughman, Florida researching, interpreting and performing the work of Zora Neale Hurston. Johnson served as lead historian and co-author for: So, This is The Fire and performs in creative interpretations of historical material.

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– Elder King and Dr. Charlae Davis