Battle Creek nonprofits to host racial healing events, vaccine clinic

Calhoun County

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — As Martin Luther King Jr. Day approaches Monday, many West Michigan nonprofits and organizations are partnering up to commemorate the legacy he left behind and his teachings on equality for all.

In Battle Creek, activities hosted by the local Coalition for Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation include a ‘Race to Heal’ yard sign campaign, virtual book launch and mayoral proclamation regarding National Day of Racial Healing.

Also on the schedule is a discussion about the necessity of Black homeownership, being held Thursday evening at New Level Sports. TRHT co-coordinator Kimberly Holley explains it will help prospective homeowners navigate the process and put any rumors to bed.

“There will be some historical context given about how we came to get to this point, disparities throughout our countries — one of these being wealth disparities — and what has happened historically that has been obstacles to African Americans, in particular, to buy homes,” Holley said.

Another event on Monday brings not one, but two definitions of healing and awareness to the celebration. Remedy through song and dance will bounce off the walls of Kellogg Arena to pay homage to the late King, his teachings and all of those who came before. Primarily, it will be through an instrument that helped bridge the gap between ancient tribes, present-day cultures and the supernatural: the djembe drum.

“In many cases… we heal through spiritual connection. Often times, we develop spiritual connection through music,” explained L.E. Johnson, the chief diversity officer for the Southwestern Michigan Urban League, one of the partners for the events. “(The djembe) was the drum that they used to not only communicate from tribe to tribe, but they used the drum to connect spiritually and to induce a level of spirituality that was, in many forms, healing.”

The coalition and its partners hosting the event is not limiting the healing to musical means. The event’s partners and Vaccinate the Great Lakes will give attendees the chance to get up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines, which organizers remind people are free.

“We’ll have the platform. Let’s vaccinate. Let’s give people the opportunity to get vaccinated,” Johnson said.

Those with the coalition believe the events are key opportunities to build healthy bonds and understand the humanity shared among all of us.

“Once we are able to make that connection and start to build those relationships, we can have those conversations about where we’re at today and how we can work together to transform systems that may be embedded with racism,” Holley said.

Details about the events, including times and locations, can be found here.

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