National Forum “From Symbols of Hate to Portraits of Understanding”
DETROIT — The current discourse in our nation regarding the dignity and respect of diverse cultures, various ethnic groups and personal sexual orientation give rise to an important need for continuous discussion related to these matters. Since the election of President Barack Obama to the Presidency of the United Sates, there has been a remarkable increase in hate talk on radio and television, stereotyping of all kinds, intolerance for different points of view and a growing threat towards physical and verbal abuse.
The recent hearings held by Congressman Peter King of New York (reminiscent of the McCarthy Era hearings) as it relates to the Muslim community are such an indication. It is important that we do not fall victim to stereotypes and finger pointing at any one community when acts of intolerance and resentment have occurred in every community. The generational stereotyping and abuse of African Americans sometimes symbolized by the burning of a cross, the use of the confederate flag and the hanging of a noose make this discussion even more important.
The lack of tolerance for immigrants seeking to come to this nation for a better life and the promise of the land of free and the home of the brave, the continuous stereotyping of members of the Jewish community, in photos and sometimes by the use of a Nazi swastika and the historic lack of respect for Native Americans rooted in the stories of the wild, wild west do not make for the best unity among reasonable people. We are not unmindful, regardless of your point of view, of the unfair and unwarranted attacks upon members of the Gay community due to their sexual preference. The escalation of bullying by young people across our nation is a reflection of the times in which we live. All of these situations have placed at our doorstep a moment for transformation and rededication to the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “do not judge each other by the color of our skin but by the content of our character.”
On Saturday, April 30, 2011 at the UAW/General Motors, located at 200 Walker Street in downtown Detroit, we will present a National Forum entitled “From Symbols of Hate to Portraits of Understanding.” This Forum will bring together members of the Muslim, African American, Native American, Latino, Jewish, and Gay communities to address, identify the problems and prescribe some solutions for these very serious matters.
This National Discussion will begin with a special presentation from Dr. David Pilgrim of Ferris State University entitled: “Them: Images of Separation” sponsored by the Jim Crow Museum of Racists Memorabilia. Other participants will be Rev. Dr. John Mendez, Pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church of Winston-Salem, NC., Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota, member of the House Financial Services Committee, David Victor, Chairman, American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Ms. Nickole Fox, Health Education Director for the American Indian Health and Family Services Organization, representing the Native American Community, Curtis Lipscomb, Executive Director of KICK, representing the Gay community, U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade of the Eastern District, speaking for the Civil Rights Division, U.S. Justice Department,
Imam Dawud Walid, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations,
and Mr. Paul Perez, Regional Coordinator of the Justice for Our Neighbors Organization, representing the Latino Community.
We are inviting everyone who believes that these issues are important enough to discuss and to develop remedies to prevent their negative impact to attend. This event is free and open to the public. We are pleased that our Thurgood Marshall Social Justice Advocacy Project and the Freedom Institute of Economic, Social Justice and People Empowerment are co-sponsoring this event.
Only in Detroit can we once again bring together such a diverse group at such a very critical time to deal with such critical issues. This event will come right after our Friday event dealing with Jobs, Jobs, Jobs for Detroiters and others in Wayne County at Cobo Hall, 9:00a.m. to 3:00p.m. who are in need of economic and social opportunities to develop a very positive life and productive future. It will come one day before our 56th Annual Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner featuring the Civil Rights Icon, the Honorable John Lewis as our keynote speaker, and Xernona Clayton, former secretary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Founder of the Trumpet Awards, who is the recipient of our James Weldon Johnson Lifetime Achievement Award and other recognized citizens for their great work in our community such as Detroit 300, members of the Detroit Police Department, 6th Precinct, Mr. Kid Rock, and Senator Bert Johnson.
Our diversity continues. We are consistently working to grow people together and not to grow them apart. Our theme for this dinner is “We’ve Changed the Guard, Now Let’s Guard the Change.” All persons are invited to join with us on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The Detroit Branch NAACP is the organization’s largest branch. It holds monthly meetings that are free and open to the public. For more information please call (313) 871-2087 or visit www.detroitnaacp.org.