Grand Rapids students speak up on race, equity at annual event

Kids speak Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - Nearly 30 students gave testimonies on their experiences with racial inequality and how they hope to repair the issue on Friday.

Students from Grand Rapids Public schools got the chance to stand before a panel made up of local and state leaders, including Mayor Rosalynn Bliss and Michigan Senator Dave Hildenbrand during the annual KidSpeak event. 

The event is hosted by the Mayor's Youth Council which is a program sponsored by Our Community's Children -- a public and private partnership in the city. KidSpeak addresses a different topic each year, this year's theme was Colorblind. 

As sixth grader Alena Oeverman put it, "the world should not be colorblind. We need to see differences in other people. We need to take them in for who they are, not judge them by the way they look. If the world was colorblind it would be like looking at a blank wall for all eternity, and that's not fun."

Many students recounted raw stories of the first time where they felt "different" because of their race, bringing many panelists to tears. 

The packed full room in City Hall left with a sense of hope, as Mayor Bliss said in close, this generation gives her hope for the future. 

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