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Toledo Community Coalition hosting event for change

This event marks the coalition’s first collaboration with The Kirwan Institute

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Toledo residents will have the chance Tuesday evening to learn how they can overcome bias and bring about community change.

Hosted by the Toledo Community Coalition and co-sponsored by The Blade, “Changing Minds & Changing Lives: Combating Racism” will be led by Kip Holley, a staff member at The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, a research institute at The Ohio State University.

The event is free and open to the public. It will take place from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at Bowsher High School, 2200 Arlington Avenue, Toledo. For more information, go to fcogtoledo.com or call 419-255-0098.

“Race does matter,” said Juanita Greene, Secretary-Treasurer of the TCC. “We need to make sure everybody has a fair chance of getting ahead in any community regardless of their race or ethnicity.”

Although the forum is the sixth event in the TCC’s “Changing Minds & Changing Lives: Combating Racism” discussion series, this event marks the coalition’s first collaboration with The Kirwan Institute.

Bob Cole, event organizer and managing attorney at Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, said the discussion will focus less on solving Toledo’s race-related problems and more on guiding Toledo residents to the tools that they can use to empower themselves and resolve their own issues.

“This is really a forum on empowerment through knowledge and through resources,” he said.

The Kirwan Institute has conducted research on racial inequity across the United States. Mr. Holley said his presentation will educate attendees on how they can overcome challenges by mobilizing their communities and inviting more people into community decision making.

“It’s a fresh approach to how we’ve attacked these problems in the past,” said Bishop Dr. Robert Culp, Senior Minister at Toledo’s First Church of God and event organizer. “This one is really training and preparing people.”

Toledo must specifically reinforce civic engagement in order to ensure that no residents are alienated by the processes through which policy decisions are made, Mr. Cole explained.

Municipal representatives should take a step back and ask “Who’s at the table?” he said. “Often times, what’s missing at the table is the community members who are most directly affected.”

TCC organizers hope Tuesday’s forum will help develop community networks that facilitate dialogue around race-related issues in Toledo.

“If you have large corporations in your community, as we do, when they speak, they have a larger voice,” said Reverend Otis Gordon, Chairperson of the TCC. In contrast, lower-income individuals from Toledo’s inner city do not carry the same influence in community conversations, he said.

“What this process does is bring equity to everyone’s voice.”

Contact Antonia Ayres-Brown at: abrown@theblade.com or 419-724-6368.

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