Event hosted by City of Liberal in response to citizen comments
LIBERAL — At a public forum hosted by the City of Liberal, Seward County Community College will facilitate discussion about issues of racism, inequity, and strengthening our community at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 18, at Mahuron Park building. College president, Dr. Ken Trzaska, will moderate the event. Longtime Liberal resident, U.S. Army veteran and founder of Adolescent Support Services Ivanhoe Love Jr. will be on hand as well to guide conversation.
The second such public forum held in Liberal since March, the event was announced by the City of Liberal’s Facebook page Thursday. Community members who attended the last two city commission meetings and the first forum have raised repeated concerns about systemic racism in Liberal. Those comments prompted city commissioners to consult with Love.
“Many people who have not been on the receiving end have a hard time understanding what racism is, how it affects our community, and what can we do, as leaders, business people, and community members,” said Love. “To have a truly meaningful conversation, we need to get beyond gripe sessions, when everyone vents their feelings, goes home mad and nothing is solved.”
Love recommended Trzaska step in to help guide a conversation that would lead to action steps. The two fellow Rotary Club members have carried on a years-long conversation about race and justice, Trzaska said.
“I am excited for this event, which reflects the long arc of much-needed progress — something that is still underway,” said Trzaska. “Ivanhoe and I have had many good discussions about what he’s witnessed in his lifetime, and where we are now. The young people and advocates who have stepped forward over the past few months are pointing to issues that deserve attention, and which the college in particular holds near and dear.“
Former SCCC student Kathleen Alonso, as well as Liberal High School graduate Jernell Martinez — winner of the Black History Month Rosa Parks Scholarship, hosted at the college — have been at the forefront of community activism over the past year. This aligns with the college’s focus on helping all students succeed, and learning to support and understand Saints from many backgrounds and cultures.
“The college has set Inclusiveness and Civility as one of its five signature ‘Mover Team’ projects for the past four academic years, and continues to focus on this priority work,” said Trzaska. “As a federally designated Hispanic Serving Institution and host to students from more than 29 countries, we prize our focus on diversity and integrity.”
“I’m honored to be part of this work,” he said. “I can’t think of a more meaningful way to wrap up my years in Liberal than exploring next steps for the community.”