Town hall aims to improve understanding of critical race theory

Ottawa County

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A virtual town hall set for Tuesday will take on the hot-button issue of critical race theory.

The forum on Tuesday, Nov. 16 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. will explore critical race theory as well as how U.S. history is taught in Michigan’s K-12 schools.

The event will be hosted by two organizations on opposite sides of the state: the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance based in Holland, and New Detroit, a racial justice organization in metro Detroit.

The news release announcing the town hall explains critical race theory as “a body of legal scholarship and an academic movement which was developed in the 1970s to demonstrate that racism is a systemic issue that continues to be ingrained in American systems including health care, criminal justice and education.”

“There is so much controversy about critical race theory that we felt it was imperative to define what it actually is,” said Michael Rafferty, president and CEO of New Detroit, Inc. “This town hall will visit not only what critical race theory is but will take it from theoretical to boots on the ground — which is crucial.”  

The town hall panel will include a senior fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institution research group who is also a professor of sociology, a multiculturalism teacher in the College of Education at Wayne State University, the executive director of Instructional Services for Grand Haven Public Schools and a special education teacher at Grand Haven High School who is also a core member of the school district’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Committee.  

While educators in Michigan and nationwide say critical race theory is not taught in K-12 schools, some states are passing laws to ensure it. There is a bill on the matter before the Michigan Legislature.

Town hall attendees can submit questions online during the event. 

“Attendees will not be able to speak or appear on camera. I wanted to keep it respectful and away from a lot of the lively discussions that have been happening in public places,” Gloria Lara, executive director of the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance, said.

You can watch the town hall on the Facebook pages of the two host organizations. If you’d like to participate by submitting questions, you can register for free on the groups’ websites, ethnicdiversity.org and NewDetroit.org.

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