A Summit on Race Matters in West Virginia will be held Friday, Feb. 23, from 5-8 p.m., and Saturday, Feb. 24, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Kyle and Ann Fort Arts and Sciences Building of New River Community and Technical College in Lewisburg.
This will be the third such summit in Lewisburg since the fall of 2015, and the theme this year is “The Time is Now.” Race Matters in West Virginia is a diverse group of people from across the state with the expressed intention of bringing people together to raise awareness, educate, confront and eradicate personal, systematic, and institutional racism. The February event will be presented by college and the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy. The local steering committee for the summits has carried out several similar projects in the area and more are in the planning stages.
The keynote speaker for Friday evening will be Dr. William M. White. He is a native of Bluefield and the Executive Director of the Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs, a Cabinet level position in West Virginia government. His contributions as a leader in education are most notably with the West Virginia Board of Education, the West Virginia Educational Broadcasting Authority, and Mountain State University.
Friday night, there will be performances by the Greenbrier East High School steel drum ensemble and student Shaylen Lafferty, a participant in the Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest. Renowned storyteller, W. I. “Bill” Hairston, will tell one of his best after Dr. White’s speech. Following the session at the college, there will be a free concert from 8:15-9:30 p.m. at the Lewis Theatre presented by Lady D (also known as Doris Anne Fields and “West Virginia’s First Lady of Soul”) accompanied by her band.
Saturday’s keynote speaker will be Arley Ray Johnson who will start things off for the day. He is a native West Virginian living now in the Washington, DC metro area, and he has been at the forefront of non-violent social and political change in West Virginia and beyond for more than 40 years. He was the 1987 recipient of the West Virginia Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Commission Living the Dream Award for the advocacy of freedom. This year during the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day program at Marshall University, he portrayed Dr. King giving his “I Have a Dream” speech.
Saturday morning and afternoon, participants will choose from seven 45-minute workshops and one about twice that length. They will have the opportunity to take part in a total of either three or four workshops during the day. The 45-minute workshops are 1) Local African American and Civil Rights History with Loretta Young and Marjorie Fuller, 2) Implicit Bias and Confronting Racism with Joseph Cohen, 3) Health Disparities and Race with Gabrielle Chapman, 4) Faith (Religion) and Racial/Social Justice with Rev. Larryetta Ellis, 5) Black Lives Matter with Dr. Keisha McKenzie, 6) Environmental Racism with Pam Nixon, and 7) Help Increase the Peace with Lida Shepherd. The longer workshop will be presented by the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, and it will be about training people to meet in classrooms with young students at schools to help them learn about the history of race relations and civil rights in America.
After lunch on site, there will be a compelling performance by Poetik Entertainment. Founded by Jamela North Starr Brown and Malik “Duality” Brown, they use their spoken word talent to uplift community.
The registration fee is $15, but there’s no fee for high school and college students. To register, go to www.eventbrite.com, search for Race Matters Greenbrier Valley, and click on that. For more information and to apply for a scholarship, email email@example.com. Those without internet access should call Larry or Ann Davis at 304-645-6919.