City of Portage Celebrates Its Diversity

The City of Portage sponsored two events in February to celebrate its commitment to advancing a civil and welcoming community. First, the City of Portage joined its partners, Western Michigan University and the Michigan Asian Pacific Americans Affairs Commission, to sponsor the “Kalamazoo Region Conversation on Respecting Diversity.” The event, moderated by Portage Mayor Peter Strazdas, brought together nearly 100 community members and regional and statewide leaders in the areas of law enforcement, education and governance to discuss the various challenges and opportunities associated with promoting and protecting a diverse society. Given the national focus on the topic of diversity, it was timely to hear experts discuss the issues confronting a civil society as it becomes increasingly more diverse. A highlight of the discussion were the comments by Bushra Alawie of the FBI about the agency’s efforts to bring positive community relations to the task of providing greater security and understanding. Portage Youth Advisory Committee members attended and highlighted their unique perspective on the opportunities associated with respecting diversity.

Second, the City of Portage sponsored its annual Black History Month event at Portage Northern High School Auditorium on February 24. The second annual event featured the musical presentation of the Brazeal Dennard Chorale. This group from Detroit energized the audience with its dramatic offerings of traditional African American song.  The event also included a theatrical, one act play, “The Meeting” written and performed by Von Washington commemorating the conversation between Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. The event was thoroughly enjoyed by an enthusiastic audience.

Larry Shaffer, City Manager, said, “I was very pleased to see the tremendous response from the community to these two important events. Both events characterize the commitment of the City of Portage to bring harmony to the community and its people.”