Rockford Organizations Promise To Fight Against Racial Inequality

Mar 22, 2021

Many northern Illinois institutions have put a magnifying glass on their groups’ practices for equity, diversity and inclusion. Some Rockford organizations are pledging to work together to focus on these issues.  

The Rockford Area Venues and Entertainment Authority (R.A.V.E.) and Friends of the Coronado are teaming up to ensure racial fairness at Davis Park, BMO Harris Bank Center and Coronado Performing Arts Center.   

Martesha Brown, a R.A.V.E. board member, said the organization has wanted to focus on equity, inclusion and diversity for some time.    

“But especially with what happened over this past year, and this summer, it really helped us to be even more proactive,” Brown explained, “and not just having a heart behind it but [to] be bringing some intentionality to it.”  

Beth Howard is the executive director of the Friends of the Coronado. She said the movement is community wide.  

“And we are learning from each other, and that was really the first step for the Friends of the Coronado,” Howard said. “We went out to some organizations right away -- [ones] we know are leaders in a lot of areas.”  

Howard said things are already rolling in the right direction. The training for racial bias has started thanks to a Healing Illinois grant.  

Brown said she is heartened by these efforts.

“I know that there's a long game in terms of diversity, equity, and inclusion," she said. "But I'm proud that these conversations are happening, I'm proud that there is a commitment to this level of change."

A feedback group met to discuss some of the plans. A few highlights include diversity and inclusion training, customer experience and community focused events. The next steps are to establish committees that will help implement the pledge.   

Howard advised that they are working on a stage production that focuses on stories racial injustice, healing and unity.

  • Yvonne Boose is a current corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It's a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at wnij.org.