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Virtual Overcoming Racism conference set for Nov. 12

The urgency for transformation will be a common thread throughout the discussions of the Overcoming Racism conference taking place virtually from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 12, via Zoom.

Project for Change.png
Project for Change

BEMIDJI -- The urgency for transformation will be a common thread throughout the discussions of the Overcoming Racism conference taking place virtually from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 12, via Zoom.

Hosted by the nonprofit Project for Change , which was formed in March 2020, the virtual conference will be held in conjunction with the Facilitating Racial Equity Collaborative conference taking place at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul.

This virtual conference is an opportunity to highlight issues and concerns unique to northern Minnesota according to the Overcoming Racism Satellite Conference-Bemidji Facebook page .

"This will be a great educational opportunity for conference participants to learn great content to live better and work across differences," Dr. Ye "Solar" Hong, director of BSU and NTC's Center for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, said regarding the conference.

The CDEI provided a $200 sponsorship for the conference and has also been involved in much of the planning and promotion.

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North Dakota House Representative Ruth Buffalo will deliver a keynote speech followed by a roundtable discussion with local activists to kick off the day.

Breakout sessions with moderators will then focus on racial equity and social justice issues. Some sessions will cover cultural responsiveness in Bemidji schools, elected Indigenous leadership, the NAACP, water protection and first-generation black doctoral women at predominately white institutions.

There will also be a panel where attendees can expound on the conference’s theme, “The Fierce Urgency for Transformation Now,” along with their insight and experiences in northern Minnesota, and hopes for the future.

"Keynote speakers are invited to this conference and several breakout sessions are set up for participants to increase knowledge, build skills and create strategies for change," Hong mentioned. "Participants can also take the opportunity to interact with each other and gain some unique insights from each other."

The conference is $50 to attend, though scholarships are available in varying amounts. Those who self-identify as Indigenous are not asked to pay registration fees per the conference’s stance that “the Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island (North America) are the rightful occupants of this land and have a pre-existing right to be at the conference.”

Everyone is asked to register and the Zoom link will be sent by 5 p.m. the day before the conference. Registration can be completed at www.peacemakerresources.org . A full schedule breakdown is available on the Project for Change Facebook page .

In the past, Project for Change has organized rallies in remembrance of George Floyd, Daunte Wright and Martin Luther King, Jr. They have also planned other events meant to raise awareness of social justice issues including a Juneteenth Freedom Day event and partnering with Our Revolution Bemidji to host an Honoring Labor event for Labor Day.

According to their website, Project for Change was “formed on building awareness, creating social opportunities, and enriching the quality of life for historically marginalized, disadvantaged, oppressed, and resilient Black and Brown communities through policy, accountability and action.”

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Daltyn Lofstrom is a reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer focusing on education and community stories.
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