“Democracy is Progress” A Talk on Discrimination in our Society

Kim Watkins, News Editor

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Four speakers gathered at Southwest Minnesota State University to talk about the discrimination against those with disabilities and racism that is still very apparent in our society today.
The Disabilities and Racism Conference was held on Thursday, March 22 in the SMSU Conference Center from 9 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. The day included a welcome and introduction from SMSU President Ronald Wood, presentations from four key speakers and scheduled times for questions and answers.
Each speaker gave an hour-long presentation on racism and discrimination and how they are still prevalent issues in today’s society.
“Democracy is progress…its essence is eternal struggle,” Mahmoud El-Kati, one of the speakers, said.
“Dispelling The Myth of Race” was the theme for El-Kati’s presentation. El-Kati is a professor emeritus of history at the Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn. His specialty is in African-American history. He advocates for the building of one’s humanity by understanding one’s own culture and history.
“Protected Class Discrimination and Harassment: How to Recognize and Report It” was presented by Dr. Whitney Harris.
He is the senior administrator for the Diversity and Equity Division  for MnSCU (Minnesota State Colleges and Universities). Harris delivers seminars and presentations related to diversity and cultural competency for colleges, universities and community organizations.
The next keynote speaker, Scott Goings, presented “Serving Individuals with Disabilities: Accommodations and Inclusion.” Goings is the Assistant General Counsel for MnSCu. His focus throughout the speech was finding ways to help accommodate those students who are disabled and why it is important in today’s society.
SMSU is just one school that helps provide a community where the disabled are accommodated and are provided for year after year.
“Help make a life for others in this country and our society,” Sedric McClure, one of the speakers, said.
McClure presented “Learning and Living Together” where he spoke about learning from those who care about you and helping those you care about. Another focus of his was to learn how to live with one another, no matter how different someone is. McClure is an SMSU 1994 Alumni and is currently working towards his Master’s degree at St. Thomas University. He is the Multicultural Counselor in the Academic Excellence Center at Macalester College.
The four speakers were able to reach out to the community of Marshall and SMSU to be aware of and help prevent discrimination and racism. It was an opportunity for the community and students to learn.
This event was made possible by the SMSU Offices of Cultural Diversity, the Counseling and Testing Services, the Disability Resources Office and the Southwestern Center for Independent Living.