It's been five years since the first National Day of Racial Healing (NDORH) celebration in Kalamazoo County. We're taking a look back on how the celebration has evolved, the important role community plays in healing and just how this day of celebration has made an impact.

If you are not familiar, NDORH is a celebration rooted in experiences for truth telling and trust building that lead to racial healing for a more just and equitable future. It's celebrated the day after Martin Luther King, Jr. Day every year.

January 17, 2017: Stories That Unite Us
The first NDORH in Kalamazoo County explored the inequality in America with the screening of the docu-series "America Divided." The nation was coming off of an election season that was rife with disinformation. There was a need for truth and to understand what's really going on from different perspectives. The event was a launching point for the Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) work moving forward.

The screening and discussion was presented by Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership at Kalamazoo College, Black Arts and Cultural Center, Fair Housing Center of Southwest Michigan, ISAAC, Kalamazoo Community Foundation, Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, SHARE and Welcoming Michigan.

There was an overwhelming response to the event ! It was full and a waiting list had to be opened.

January 16, 2018: Heal Our Communities

NDORH in 2018 was hosted with local nonprofit organizations. Kalamazoo County residents were invited to share their vision for a community without racism. The Douglass Community Center held a neighborhood breakfast to provide safe space for residents to tell their stories related to racism.
Rootead Enrichment Center held a Hip Hop and Yoga class for youth ages 10 - 18. Youth were guided on how to use movement to heal from the impacts of racism; calm nerves and emotions; and increase body awareness through yoga.

January 22, 2019: Celebrating How We Heal
(postponed to March 5, 2019 due to inclement weather)

The third NDORH event was a community celebration with an evening of music, poetry, dance and food. Community engaged with one another, had real conversations, and created healthy ways of coexisting. The event focused on respite and joy as community honored centuries of dedication, resistance, struggle, loss, gain and committed collaboration toward healing and equity.

"The work can be so heavy. Racial Healing is deep. It's pealing back the layers of a lot of trauma. To continue to work, we need to be healthy and part of healthy is letting loose sometimes." - Racial Healing Practitioner, Ed Genesis on WMUK

January 21, 2020: Truth-telling

Year four featured youth and community voices, local artists, and an opportunity to learn more about TRHT Kalamazoo’s work connecting racial healing and systemic change. This was also the first time public healing circles were included in the NDORH celebration.

Side Note: Another "sold out" event!

January 19, 2021: Resistance & Healing

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, TRHT held its first-ever virtual NDORH celebration. A variety of virtual events -- including a Twitter chat, book discussion and TRutH Talk and Virtual Healing Experience -- throughout the month of January focused on the theme of "Healing and Resistance." The livestream celebration included a panel of community leaders and change makers discussed what healing and resistance looks like in politics, community services, immigrant communities, housing and more. Performances by local artists, musicians and dancers were woven throughout the event.

Meet Our Racial Healing Practitioners

The TRHT Racial Healing Practitioner Cohort is a team of community members focused on recognizing our shared humanity and how racism has harmed us all collectively in different ways. This team of skilled racial healing practitioners has been trained to facilitate healing circle experiences that are generative, confidential, safe spaces
for truthful conversation.

  • Ed Genesis
  • Adrian Vazquez
  • Elizabeth Garcia
  • JaRay Reese
  • Samantha Weaver
  • Elena Mireles-Hill
  • Emily Olivares
  • Joan Hawxhurst
  • LaSonda Wells
  • Shari Weber
  • Elisheva Johnson
  • Tom Beech
  • Dale Mitchell
  • Casey Coker
  • Fanny Fernandez
  • Judi Ranbow
  • Patrese Griffin
  • Kerria Randolph
  • Charlae Davis
  • Juliana Hafner
  • Ragan Savara
  • Sholanna Lewis
  • Denise Evans
  • Cheree Thomas
  • Jacob Pinney-Johnson
  • Kathy Purnell
  • Rev. Joslyn Mason
  • Caren Dybek
  • Gabriel Giron
  • Kama Mitchell
  • Stacey Randolph Ledbetter
  • Sholanna Lewis
  • Xiaoan Li

If you're interested in being an active participant in your community's healing both now and in the years to come, follow @TRHTkalamazoo on social media to engage year-round.

TRHT Kalamazoo on Facebook

TRHT Kalamazoo on Instagram

TRHT Kalamazoo on YouTube

TRHT Kalamazoo on Twitter

This article was featured in the latest issue of our UPDATE newsletter.
Read the full issue as a digital magazine.