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Midland Center Inspires Community Conversations Around Racial Injustice

In the middle of an international Pandemic, our country was shaken by another crisis – the racial injustice that exists in our communities, spurred by the tragic murder of George Floyd. While this event sparked a resurgence of the international movement #BlackLivesMatter, Midland Center for the Arts renewed its commitment to address societal issues through the arts and humanities this past summer. Over the last several years, the Center’s Perspective Series has explored topics and issues around communities of race, sexual orientation and expression, gender and more, but acknowledges the need to elevate the conversation around racial justice in our community through artists of color.

This weekend the Center for the Arts will present international thought leader and author, Ibram X. Kendi as part of the Virtual Pass, a local streaming platform for events at the Center. Dr. Kendi is one of America’s foremost historians and leading antiracist voices, and the #1 New York Times bestselling author of “How to be an Antiracist,” among several other award-winning books. His discussion hosted by the Center offers an intimate conversation facilitated by journalist Bryce Huffman and Dr. Mamie Thorns, Chief Diversity Officer at Saginaw Valley State University.

“I have been following Dr. Kendi for nearly two years, hearing his wisdom at large speaking events and studying his journey and perspective on diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Dr. Thorns. “I’m so delighted that he will be speaking here in the Great Lakes Bay Region, and I know our region is going to benefit from having this conversation with him.”

While the event will be enlightening and engaging discussion around racial inequity, injustice, and how we as individuals can be antiracist in our society, the conversation doesn’t start and end there. Through various groups in Midland and the campus community in Saginaw, friends and neighbors are reading Dr. Kendi’s award-winning book and participating in weekly discussions for questions and conversation.

“Exploring issues of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access is challenging and personal work,” said Katie Miller, Midland Center’s Community Engagement Manager, “and we are grateful to be a part of this journey with members of our community, a deep dive into the teachings of Dr. Kendi, to discuss how race impacts our lives here in this region, and how we can be better neighbors in fostering a welcoming community.” The Center has held a discussion each week with 20 individuals who are reading the book, “How to Be an Antiracist.” The discussion is a precursor for Dr. Kendi’s virtual event, and the group will resume conversations following the talk about the next steps each person can take.

The conversations are also continuing in Saginaw and on SVSU’s campus said Dr. Thorns, “This work is critical to our success at the University. I have our executive leadership, along with many faculty, reading this book with the plan to host courageous conversations on how to be an antiracist.”

Her partnership and role on the Board of Directors for the Saginaw Community Foundation has also positioned her to begin these conversations with her colleagues on their work in the community.

“Pursuing this path is a journey, and one that takes personal initiative to be informed and engaged to be an ally, an advocate, and an antiracist.” Members of the community are invited to join the discussion with Dr. Ibram X. Kendi for his virtual event on Sunday, Oct. 11 at 3 p.m. Tickets are on sale now, $15 for the single event ticket, or you can subscribe for Midland Center’s Virtual Pass at just $9.99/month for access to this event and many others. Tickets and information can be found at or by calling the box office at 989-631-8250. This event is made possible through the generous support of Saginaw Valley State University.

About the author

Josh Holliday

Josh Holliday

Josh Holliday is the former Director of Communications at Midland Center for the Arts. Telling the stories of artists, innovators and modern day explorers!

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