Five hundred community leaders in Flint, Michigan, attended intensive training this spring to understand and combat racism. The Flint "undoing racism" movementhighlighted in the Clinton administrations publication Pathways to One America in the 21st Century: Promising Practices for Racial Reconciliationis now a national model.
Flints mayor, Woodrow Stanley, proclaimed an "Undoing Racism" week this spring, and participants in the anti-racism workshops have included the mayor, fire chief Therron Wiggins, members of the print and electronic media, community activists, block club presidents, corporate leaders, city council members, foundations, the arts community, and a university chancellor. At least 100 teens who participated in Undoing Racism retreats are now active in the movement.
The seeds of this years events were planted in 1997, when the Community Coalition and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation convened a diverse group of 40 community leaders for a half-day meeting presented by the Peoples Institute for Survival and Beyond. The Peoples Institute is a grassroots training organization founded in New Orleans in 1980, with branches in California, Michigan, Georgia, Minnesota, and New York. Civic leaders attending the briefing agreed that Undoing Racism workshops could be helpful in the citys effort to address racism. Flint had recently been identified as the sixth most-segregated city of its size in the United States, which lent a sense of urgency.
The Community Coalition received a grant from the Mott Foundation to organize four Undoing Racism workshops. Twenty people participated in the first workshop, held in November 1997; 125 attended the following three workshops, including the mayor and fire chief, who decided to encourage city employees to attend future sessions.