Michigan Department of Civil Rights, City of Detroit and Checker Bar Partner for "Let's Talk About Race" Discussion

Contact: Vicki Levengood levengoodv@michigan.gov

DETROIT, MI – Today (Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019) the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, the City of Detroit Civil Rights and Inclusion Office and the owners of Checker Bar are hosting a community conversation entitled “Let’s Talk About Race.” The discussion is taking place at 3:30 p.m. at Checker Bar, located at 124 Cadillac Place, Detroit, Michigan 48226.

Anthony Lewis, Director of Business and Community Affairs for the Michigan Department of Civil Rights is facilitating the discussion.

The conversation is focused on race and gentrification in the Detroit recovery with eye towards building bridges between communities and lessening discrimination.

The decision to hold the discussion grew out of an incident in which a Checker Bar employee was fired for inappropriate comments related, in part, to race. The City of Detroit Civil Rights and Inclusion Office sees this event as a first step in hosting and facilitating future discussions in the city.

Also attending the discussion is Commissioner Stacie Clayton, Vice Chair of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission.

“As a Commissioner, I am pleased to see the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, the Detroit Department of Civil Rights, Inclusion and Opportunity and the owner of Checker Bar collaborate to address concerns around discrimination,” said Clayton.  “This intentional community conversation about race is timely and will move us toward the goal of eliminating negative language and stereotypes that have become more pervasive in society.”

“While the incident that happened was disappointing and unfortunate, it has provided us with an outstanding opportunity to have a deeper, more meaningful conversation to make Detroit’s recovery even more inclusive,” said Tim Tharpe owner of Checker Bar. “We’re honored to hold this important

“Growing and diverse communities run into problems related to race and gentrification all the time,” said Charity Dean, Director City of Detroit, Civil Rights Equity and Opportunity. “The only way to address those concerns and conflicts is head on and face to face. Discussions like this one allow us all to find our commonality as residents of Detroit and share in the goals of creating and building inclusive spaces throughout the city.”

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission was created by the Michigan Constitution to safeguard constitutional and legal guarantees against discrimination. The Michigan Department of Civil Rights, the investigational arm of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, is charged with investigating and resolving discrimination complaints and working to prevent discrimination through educational programs that promote voluntary compliance with civil rights laws. The Department also provides information and services to businesses on diversity initiatives and equal employment law.

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