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RU strives to help end prejudice through partnership dinner

By: Emily Carroll

Rochester University teamed up with End Prejudice, a Metro Detroit nonprofit organization, to host The Family Dinner event in January to highlight the importance of building a connection with others in the community to build a future without prejudice.

The Family Dinner allowed community members to share their experiences and learn about others to help inspire new connections. Those who attended the event heard from Lashaun Pheonix Moore, a singer, poet and co-director of End Prejudice; Bryce LP, a singer-songwriter; Jeremy Peters, a pastor and poet; Johdi Jackson, a singer-songwriter. Musical accompaniment was provided by keyboardist Drew Keys, drummer Dre Bell and bassist Byron Harris Jr.

The evening began with a barbecue dinner before the performers took the stage. Darcy Bennin, a junior management major, attended the event and said, “Going into the event I did not know what to expect, but right from the start I was impressed by the food and the talent. I was moved by every performance.”

Detroit native Lashaun Phoenix Moore took the stage first and shared her experiences as a Black woman seeing police brutality in America. She said she responds to injustice with an attitude of forgiveness that could be “as heavy as a knee on the neck, as an utterance from the cross in the face of your murderers, as a radical act that Christ demonstrated.”

Pastor Jeremy Peters of the United Methodist Church in Flint, Michigan, read two poems he wrote

“Token White Guy” and “This is not a Poem About Butterflies.”

“Token White Guy” describes white privilege from the perspective of a young Black girl.

Peters said, “When you hear me speaking in that voice, I am echoing the voices of people I’ve listened to… I can’t live those experiences myself. I gotta learn from people who have.”

Alexis Krumbach, a sophomore sports management major, said Peters’ poems stuck with her throughout the night. And fellow presenter Moore said about Peters: “He does so many brave things up to and including tearing down barriers and walls that have been a construct of the Methodist Church. He is a rebel.”

Fellow Detroit natives Bryce LP and Johdi Jackson each performed their own music while also covering other songs that expressed their own individual stories as artists, musicians, and people.

Bryce’s song “Worthy” embraces tapping into your power and light. “When you take a candle and you light it, then you light another, and another, that is what we have to do for each other,” Bryce said.

Johdi expressed her personal battle with mental health and how she found the courage to find the help she needed and embrace her worth and beauty as an individual. “I just want everybody in the room to always remember that no matter what you look like, no matter your occupation. No matter what. You are beautiful. You are worthy,” she said.

As the Family Dinner ended, Moore encouraged the crowd to connect with new people and the guests themselves after the show in hopes of creating space to end prejudice one conversation at a time.

"Hosting events that bring people together is missional for RU, plus enjoying a good meal over live music is always a good idea in my book,” said Evan Green, associate dean of students and director of intercultural and spiritual life. Brian Petty, residence hall director, and student life assistant worked with Green to coordinate the event.

Green said, “Collaborating on the event with End Prejudice is a way for RU to be good neighbors with community leaders. These efforts allow RU to support a local nonprofit doing meaningful work and support local artists.”

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