The Crusader Newspaper Group

Urban League creates opportunities for positive change

By Dr. Vanessa Allen, President and CEO, Urban League of NWI

We live in challenging times. As a nation, we are compelled to steer our ship of state out of troubled waters. That means those on the ground have a special and urgent task at hand, one that will define who we are for generations to come.

Because of our place in world politics, repercussions from what we do here reverberate globally. Many are particularly concerned about those repercussions in light of the results of our recent elections that do not portend peaceful and socially appropriate outcomes.

Over the past few years, we have seen too much racist behavior all across our country, in our schools, on the streets, with ugly messages painted on walls and a recent shameful burning of an African American church in Mississippi. White students at a local Northwest Indiana high school engaged in racist bullying of students of color, creating fear and division among those who thought they “belonged.” Over 400 incidents such as this have been reported nationally.

This is why we are proud to endorse the “Civility Counts” campaign sponsored by the Greater Gary Chamber of Commerce and The Times newspaper.

We in Northwest Indiana have our task before us. And the Urban League has made clear its role in working to create conversation and conditions that can foster positive change.

In this context, our recent Diversity and Inclusion Conference held at Purdue University Northwest is a bright sign that we are on the right track.

Last year, 90 participants joined us on this journey. This year, 140 people showed up, an indication that many more want to know how to create a new working environment, one where through knowledge and heartfelt conversations, we can advance a progressive agenda that serves our communities.

Through workshops on unconscious bias, justice and culture, cultural identity, stereotypes and millennial thought, those 140 people were able to have difficult and productive conversations in a safe environment. But conversation is not enough. It must lead to action because, as we know, thought does precede action.

Following our symposium, our next step is to recognize those businesses and organizations who have stepped up to the plate to go on record with proven track records in the areas of diversity and inclusion among their workforces. We encourage those who have made strides in these areas to apply for an award, which will be presented at a March 23, 2017 luncheon celebrating that progress.

Awards will be presented in the following categories: Community, Leadership, Workforce Diversity, Moving the Needle, Youth and Lifetime Ach-ievement.

Applications should be submitt-ed by Friday, February 17, 2017 at 12 noon. Please see the website at to learn more about each award and to print the complete application.

We look forward to our luncheon on March 23 where, for 5 years, we have hosted 500 people who come to honor those who have carried the torch not just through words but with action.

Please join us this year. Apply for an award. You have plenty of time to do so. We look forward to hearing from you.

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