On Sept. 7th, 2018, the Julian Samora Research Institute and African American and African Studies at Michigan State University hosted the second in a series of three daylong statewide summits intended to foster dialogue and collaboration between Michigan’s Latina/o and African American communities, as well as other communities of color. At the first summit, nearly 90 participants were asked to identify and rank order the most pressing issues facing Michigan’s communities of color. At the second summit, approximately 100 participants were engaged in developing a vision for a more equitable and inclusive Michigan.
The summit started with opening remarks by Dr. Rubén Martinez, Director of JSRI, who spoke on expanding community, envisioning a better Michigan, and exploring models for sustainable collaboration. Next, Jerry Tello, co-founder of the National Compadres Network, spoke on the importance of understanding our interconnected histories as communities of color, as well as healing from intergenerational traumas. Angela Reyes, Director of the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation, led a panel discussion on “Intersecting and Divergent Issues Impacting Women in Communities of Color.” Panelists included: Lacy Dawson, Field Director with Michigan Voice; Ashley Tuomi, CEO of American Indian Health and Family Services; Gabriela Santiago-Romero of We the People and Girls Making Change; and Rima Meroueh, Advocacy and Community Engagement Manager with ACCESS. Donald Weatherspoon, PhD, concluded the morning session by emphasizing the need for a social fabric that supports at-risk youth of color. During lunch, Ismael Ahmed, Associate Provost for Integrated Learning and Community Partnerships at the University of Michigan, Dearborn, spoke on the importance of collective efforts by communities of color and other marginalized groups in pushing for societal progress.
Throughout the afternoon, summit attendees participated in a visioning activity in which they were asked what a just, equitable, and inclusive Michigan would look like, how the communities can work together toward creating such a society, and how this work might be facilitated over time. Attendees reported out by table. Some common themes that emerged were: building relationships; identifying commonalities among communities of color; addressing internal prejudices; providing equitable access to educational, political, and economic systems; sharing critical knowledge; addressing past injustices and historical trauma; and promoting community autonomy. These will be taken up at Summit III in 2019.