The Rapidian

Taking a serious look at the future of the Black community in GR

A recent symposium in Grand Rapids brought together a panel of prominent community leaders to discuss the future of the black community. They discussed issues, obstacles, situations and most importantly solutions.
Underwriting support from:

/Empower Michigan

When weighing the balance of history and the present, there's only one question that really matters: What will the future look like?

"Empower Michigan", an initiative spearheaded by activists Jonathan Jelks, LINC Community Liaison Azizi Jasper and Jamiel Robinson, recently held a symposium at the Wealthy Theatre in Grand Rapids to take a look at the situation of the black community in Grand Rapids. "The Future of the Black Community in Grand Rapids: A Tale of Two Cities" brought together prominent community leaders to discuss the challenges and the way forward for this community in Grand Rapids. Representatives from organizations, the city commission, the media, business and more all weighed in on the issues facing the community—but more importantly, to offer solutions.

Panelists touched on a variety of complex and overwhelming challenges the black community in Grand Rapids faces, including economic issues, education, youth culture, neighborhood revitalization, black-on-black violence and the need to hold elected officials accountable to the communities of color they represent. LINC Community Revitalization, Inc.'s Co-Executive Director Darel Ross pointed out that there are systems in place which are designed to continue the status quo, and offered that it is up to every person in these communities to work towards major changes.

"When it is a certain group of people who are perpetually negatively affected, there's something systematic going on because, really, your zip code should only dictate where you order pizza," Ross said.

The ultimate goal of the dicussion, which was the second in a series of state-wide symposiums in urban areas with black populations facing similar problems, is to work with residents to come up with a strategic action plan that will result in positive outcomes tailored to the community.

For more information on "Empower Michigan" and to find out about the next symposium, contact Azizi Jasper at [email protected]. Find more videos from this and other LINC events on the LINC Vimeo page.

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