College of DuPage launches anti-racism initiative

  •   Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer, 2014

  • A white Wheaton church's attempts to show solidarity with the African American and gay communities through signs have been met with repeated acts of vandalism that church officials view as hate crimes. This rainbow peace symbol that was part of the church's welcome sign was burned to the ground.

      A white Wheaton church's attempts to show solidarity with the African American and gay communities through signs have been met with repeated acts of vandalism that church officials view as hate crimes. This rainbow peace symbol that was part of the church's welcome sign was burned to the ground. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Encouraging messages written in chalk on the sidewalk in front of Hope Presbyterian Church in Wheaton. Church leaders aimed to show solidarity with the African American community through Black Lives Matter signs that were vandalized last Monday.

      Encouraging messages written in chalk on the sidewalk in front of Hope Presbyterian Church in Wheaton. Church leaders aimed to show solidarity with the African American community through Black Lives Matter signs that were vandalized last Monday. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 9/5/2020 6:59 PM

A new anti-racism initiative aims to unite DuPage County communities and provide a platform for meaningful conversations to help people reflect on, share experiences of and act against prejudice.

The College of DuPage launched the academic-yearlong program, Chaps Unite Against Racism, in partnership with DuPage County leaders. The collegewide effort will involve activities examining the ways racism exists using social media, videos, photos and forums. Its goal is to start open dialogue, strengthen diversity and create change in DuPage County.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"College of DuPage values diversity and invites faculty, staff, students and community members from all walks of life to get involved and join discussions about racial equity and inclusion," COD President Brian Caputo said. "Ultimately, this will propel us forward to take action toward building a more just community."

Program notes

The campaign will include a "Speak Your Truth" blog series, with community leaders, college faculty, staff members and students sharing personal stories and insights about how race, diversity, equity and inclusion have affected their lives. It also will include a community "read and reflect" series and virtual forums.

The first virtual forum, titled "Does Freedom of Speech Really Mean I Can Say Whatever I Want?" will be at noon Tuesday. Panelists include COD general counsel Lilliana Kalin, political science professor David Goldberg, Student Life Manager Chuck Steele, and student trustee Samiha Syed. It will include a round-table discussion about the lines between free speech and potentially disruptive behavior on COD's campus and in its communities.

For information, visit cod.edu/chapsuniteagainstracism.

Peace vigil

Members of Hope Presbyterian Church in Wheaton held an interfaith peace vigil Thursday to combat hate, in solidarity with Black and LGBTQ communities and other faith groups.

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R. Keith Beauchamp, pastor of Bethel New Life Church, right, and pastor Jay Moses, of Hope Presbyterian Church in Wheaton, came together Tuesday to talk about the recent vandalism of signs posted in support of Black lives. The congregations of both churches share Hope Presbyterian's building for services.
  R. Keith Beauchamp, pastor of Bethel New Life Church, right, and pastor Jay Moses, of Hope Presbyterian Church in Wheaton, came together Tuesday to talk about the recent vandalism of signs posted in support of Black lives. The congregations of both churches share Hope Presbyterian's building for services. - Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

The progressive, predominantly white church has shared its sanctuary with the Black congregation of Bethel New Life Church for five years. Signs posted on the church's front lawn supporting Blacks were vandalized twice last month.

"There is a lot of love on this hill," Bethel Pastor R. Keith Beauchamp, of Streamwood, told the cheering crowd during the vigil. "Love covers a multitude of sins."

Beauchamp said church members "have already forgiven" the vandals. He added the incident brought both congregations and other faith community members together for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic forced the church to close its doors.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Members of the Jewish, Muslim and Sikh communities shared their support of the church's message of unity during the vigil.

Pastor Jay Moses, of Hope Presbyterian Church in Wheaton, says vandals repeatedly have destroyed the church's signs showing solidarity with the Black community.
  Pastor Jay Moses, of Hope Presbyterian Church in Wheaton, says vandals repeatedly have destroyed the church's signs showing solidarity with the Black community. - Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

Hope Presbyterian Pastor Jay Moses said replacing the damaged signs and installing surveillance cameras will cost the church $4,000. The church has set up a GoFundMe page to raise funds and has collected more than $1,200.

Virtual convention

The Islamic Society of North America's 57th annual convention continues Sunday virtually.

This year's theme, "The Struggle for Social and Racial Justice: A Moral Imperative," is addressing racism, environmental and social justice, COVID-19, political activism, and issues facing Muslims globally. The convention features more than 65 national speakers, respected scholars, authors, experts, artists and community leaders. It also includes children's programing, community service awards and entertainment.

Register at isna.net/convention-information/.

'¡Ya es el Tiempo!'

Elgin Community College will celebrate Latinx Heritage Month virtually this year with events built around the theme "¡Ya es el Tiempo!" -- "Now is the time!"

Jorge DeSantiago, Emmy Award-winning television news reporter and NBC Telemundo Chicago anchor, will deliver the keynote speech at 2 p.m. Sept. 15.

The event is free but limited to 300 participants. To register, visit tinyurl.com/LHMkickoff2020.

In lieu of purchasing tickets, community members are urged to support the ECC Foundation's Student Success Fund, which provides financial relief to all students, including those who are undocumented/DACA recipients, at risk of homelessness, have food insecurity or are struggling with unemployment and COVID-19 pandemic-related issues.

• Share stories, news and happenings from the suburban mosaic at mkrishnamurthy@dailyherald.com.

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