Diversity Festival Draws Large Crowd

Tuesday, March 6, 2018, 6:57 am
Jessy Gregg

Area residents gathered to celebrate the diversity of the people of East Lansing and the surrounding areas at the Celebration of Diversity Festival at All Saints Episcopal Church yesterday.

The event was co-sponsored by the City of East Lansing and many area groups, religious organizations, and non-profits, and was held to coincide with a speech on MSU’s campus given by Richard Spencer, a white nationalist from the National Policy Institute.

Before the event, the City’s webpage quoted Councilmember Aaron Stephens saying, “Given the recent rise in visible white supremacy, several community groups have come together to host this special event.”

A steady stream of people walked over to All Saints Church from the parking lots at Hannah Community Center and cars lined Centerlawn Avenue. Festival attendees were met by volunteers handing out buttons which read “Celebrate Diversity” as well as balloons, bubbles, and stickers with a picture of a heart and the inscription “There’s no room in my heart for prejudice.”

Volunteers inside the church passed out cookies donated by religious congregations around the Lansing area, organized by the Interfaith Clergy Association of Greater Lansing. Members of the East Lansing Human Relations Commission and volunteers from other community groups helped anyone who wanted to paint a poster or a rock with an inspirational message.

Local musicians and dancers performed for a standing-room-only audience in the lower level of the building, while still more volunteers were in the kitchen plating up hummus and falafel, compliments of East Lansing’s Islamic Center and Sultan’s Restaurant. Donations were accepted to benefit the Global Institute of Lansing, a high school completion program for adult refugees.

There were also speeches by local government and community leaders, including East Lansing Mayor Mark Meadows and Lansing Mayor Andy Schor. Councilmember Stephens wore a shirt displaying a quote from Desmond Tutu: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.

According to the City’s website, besides the organizations already named above, co-sponsors included Action of Greater Lansing, Network of Spiritual Progressives, Associated Students of MSU (the undergraduate student government of MSU), MSU Council of Graduate Students, MSU Residence Halls Association, MSU’s Black Student Alliance, MSU College Democrats, MSU College Republicans, MSU Young Americans for Liberty, MSU Jewish Studies, MSU African American and African Studies, and Black Lives Matter Lansing.

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