Race forum: Engaging community is top priority

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Not long after the Rev. Otis Gordon arrived in Toledo approximately 14 years ago, a Ku Klux Klan-affiliated group held a rally in the city.

What the Rev. Gordon remembers most about the event is the way Toledo residents rallied to organize a counter-protest.

“We could not prevent them from having an opportunity to voice their opinions, but we did not have to accept that,” he said.

Since then, Pastor Gordon has worked tirelessly as an advocate of racial equity in Toledo. He’s served as chairman of the Toledo Community Coalition and helped to organize a series of forums called “Changing Minds & Changing Lives: Combating Racism.”

The discussion series continued Tuesday as the Rev. Gordon and a couple hundred Toledo residents attended a forum on equitable civic engagement at Bowsher High School.

Attendees of the two-and-a-half-hour event, which was hosted by the Community Coalition and co-sponsored by The Blade, first listened to a presentation by Kip Holley, a staff member at Ohio State University’s Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity.

Mr. Holley’s lecture, which marked the first collaboration between the TCC and Kirwan Institute, centered largely around principles of equitable civic engagement, including embracing diversity within communities, learning to disagree and deal with dissent, and recognizing the role race, power and injustice play in society.

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