The Office of Diversity Programs proudly presents “Spotlight on Diversity”, a recurring feature in which individuals, groups, and organizations within the Saginaw Valley community are recognized for their work to advance diversity, equity, inclusion and further enrich the experiences of those at Saginaw Valley State University and the Great Lakes Community.
Engaging in conversations which can be uncomfortable is often necessary but takes courage. Such was the nature of the winter 2021 COVID Teach-In with Dr. Pruitt. Dr. Pruitt candidly tackled issues, concerns, and myths related to perceptions of COVID testing and vaccines viewed through the lens of race and community still relevant today. Facts met fears and participants were able to make informed decisions rather than a decision based on “Dr. Google”.
The Great Mural Project was a group of volunteers working to beautify Saginaw through mural installations. While the initiative began with bringing artists in to create beautiful works of art around Saginaw, the more recent work of the organization focused on using art as a medium to create community, highlighting diversity as a strength, and to be intentional about discussing division, growth, and collaboration.
In September of 2020, the Great Mural Project utilized a $25,000 grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies to unite community members in an event targeted to reduce barriers to art, increase opportunities for conversation and relationship building among diverse populations in Saginaw, and support local artists, businesses, and restaurants. During the paint-a-thon, two large murals were installed embracing the theme of diversity and inclusion. Additionally, butterflies were painted across the length of the Court Street Bridge symbolizing transformation and unity.
The Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum featured the exhibit “Hip Hop Icons” fall 2020. This engaging exhibition featured albums, performance flyers, magazines covers, action figures and toys, photographs, movie posters, and many additional items celebrating Hip Hop icons. The exhibition also featured visits by exhibition curator Dr. Khalid el-Hakim, Professor Griff of Public Enemy and Umar Bin Hassan of The Last Poets. In partnership with the Saginaw African Cultural Festival, the museum also offered the “Hip Hop Films Speaker Series” which featured several HipHop films with commentary and discussion.
Now with a grant from the NEA, the museum has been selected to lead the NEA Big Read: Great Lakes Bay Region, a 10-month long initiative focused on celebrating the region’s diversity. This initiative centers around the popular and extremely accessible novel by Latina author Sandra Cisneros titled “The House on Mango Street.” The Museum will be collaborating with partners across Saginaw, Bay, and Midland counties to engage community members through a wide variety of programs and events.
Both the Hip Hop exhibition and the Big Read affirm Saginaw Valley State University’s commitment to an inclusive and equitable campus community that supports educational excellence and success and supported SVSU’s mission and vision to “transform lives through educational excellence and dynamic partnerships, unleashing possibilities for impact in our community and worldwide.”
The pandemic is reshaping work lives and entertainment as well. In this regard, SVSU’s Department of Theatre presented a virtual show fall 2020 which aligned with SVSUs commitment to diversity, inclusion, and difficult conversations when “No. 6” By T.J. Young was performed via ZOOM.
The story although set in April 2001, forecasts contemporary issues between the police and the Black community. An unarmed Black teen is shot and killed by a police officer resulting in a five-day riot that positions the citizens against the police. The Anderson family, in a small apartment above their family-owned dry cleaners, struggle with fear, hunger, and a white man who was injured during the riots.
“No.6” was presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals on behalf of Samuel French, Inc.