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Seventh Annual Graetz Symposium Held at National Center

Image associated with the Seventh Annual Graetz Symposium Held at National Center news item

Author: Deonshay Danson

Release Date: Mar 15, 2013

A panel of distinguished guests discussed “pathways to diversity” at ASU’s seventh annual Robert and Jean Graetz Symposium.

Each year the Robert and Jean Graetz Symposium on Human Rights and Reconciliation engages the campus and community in the important conversation of racial reconciliation.

The seventh annual Graetz Symposium continued that discussion with “Pathways to Diversity in the Beloved Community: A Call for Action," on Thursday, March 14, at the National Center for the Study of Civil Rights and African-American Culture at Alabama State University.

This year’s panel included Patt Riggins, Messiah Lutheran Church; Barbara Thompson, superintendent, Montgomery Public Schools; Susan Diamond, pastor, First Christian Church (Disciples), Interfaith Montgomery;  Lisa McGinty, Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce; and Dr. Jewel Henderson, One Montgomery.

The panel explored topics such as inclusion and diversity in education, faith, business and a variety of aspects that impact the local and global community.

McGinty addressed the group about diversity from a business standpoint.

“We are starting to create a model for diversity and inclusion within chambers of commerce, the business case for diversity … Sometimes when you look at what you are doing, you start with just the words and then before you know it, you’re impacting your immediate life, then you’re impacting your businesses, then you’re impacting your community, you’re impacting the words that are spoken by people who are around you, and then you’re impacting people on a broader scale,” said McGinty.  “I encourage you to take those concepts, to take a look at what inclusion and engagement means within your own respective business and how that can be embraced for the betterment and totality of what you are doing.”

In addition to the panel discussion, the symposium included remarks by Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange, who offered greetings on behalf of the city.

Also, a group of nearly 20 students from Bethel University in St. Paul, Minn., attended the symposium as the final stop of a civil rights trip in which they visited Memphis, Birmingham, Selma and Atlanta.

Chris Lund, a reconciliation studies and communications major at Bethel, was enthusiastic about the opportunity to learn more about the Civil Rights Movement by visiting the various historic places along the trip.

"We learned the methods used to institute change and how to address issues of diversity," said Lund. "The symposium was very informative; it’s always good to learn about the importance of diversity and how, when people come together and engage each other, all sides end up better."

The Graetz Symposium was founded by the National Center to honor longtime human rights activists, the Rev. Robert and Mrs. Jean Graetz. It is designed to stimulate action-oriented citizens to work toward reconciliation while examining factors that divide ethnic groups.

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