A Pledge to Stand Together in Richmond

A Pledge to Stand Together in Richmond

  On December 17, 2015, the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities joined with nearly 100 religious and organizational leaders at the Islamic Center of Virginia to stand together against Islamophobia and xenophobia.  At the conclusion of the press conference, this pledge was read: Upholding the ideals of the “Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom” enacted into law by the Virginia General Assembly in 1786… We stand together. In response to recent divisive and hurtful rhetoric that targets members of our community… We stand together. With our Muslim friends, neighbors, and colleagues who have recently faced an increase in bigoted words and actions… We stand together. With the immigrants and refugees who today call this country home… We stand together. Celebrating the diversity of religions and belief systems as a source of strength… We stand together. Recognizing that we are all at risk when one group is unjustly targeted… We stand together. In the face of efforts to promote fear of people considered to be “the other”… We stand together. Sharing a commitment to understanding, peace, and justice… We stand together. Acknowledging that these words must be backed up by inclusive actions… We stand together. Today and in the future, we pledge that in the Richmond region and beyond… We stand...

Remembering Dr. Allix B. James

The following message was written by Jonathan C. Zur, President & CEO of the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities on September 27, 2015: Dear Friends of VCIC, With great sadness, I write to share the news that Dr. Allix Bledsoe James passed away overnight. He was 92 years old. Over the course of his life, Dr. James served in a number of capacities at Virginia Union University, including student, Professor, Dean, Vice President, President, Chancellor, and President Emeritus. In the community, he cumulatively served more than 50 organizations in his 92 years. He was the first African American person elected President of the Virginia State Board of Education, first African American person elected President of the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada, first African American person elected to a corporate board in Virginia, and first African American person elected to chair the National Conference of Christians and Jews, among many other distinctions. We are so fortunate that Dr. James was involved in the work of the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities (formerly the Virginia Region of the National Conference of Christians and Jews) for more than five decades. He is an emeritus member of our State Board of Directors, represented the Virginia office on the national NCCJ board for several years, and he holds the distinction of being the first person to receive two awards from our organization: Dr. James earned the Humanitarian Award in 1975, and he was presented with the Jeffrey B. Spence Award for Interfaith Understanding when that recognition was created in 2009. Dr. James was also a leading force and substantial...
VCIC’s Work Spotlighted at Richmond Public Schools Press Conference

VCIC’s Work Spotlighted at Richmond Public Schools Press Conference

The Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities was invited by Dr. Dana T. Bedden, Superintendent of Richmond Public Schools, to participate in a press conference at Huguenot High School on March 2, 2015.  This event included a public apology from administrators regarding a February 2013 incident targeting Latino students.  VCIC’s work with Richmond Public Schools over the last few years was noted by several school division leaders as an example of efforts to foster a more inclusive school and division.  Below are remarks shared by VCIC President & CEO Jonathan C. Zur at the press conference: “At the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, we know that more inclusive schools are more successful schools. Research shows that students who feel a sense of belonging are more likely to show up, do their homework, raise their hands, and perform at higher academic levels. And that is the work we do each day. In recent years, VCIC has been honored to work in partnership with Richmond Public Schools to foster a climate of increased welcome and inclusion for students from all races, classes, and national origins. These efforts have been supported by generous grant funding and have included intensive, ongoing professional development for educators at Fox and Greene Elementary Schools, Brown and Elkhardt Middle Schools, and Huguenot High School on culturally relevant instruction, support for inclusive policy changes and programs, and student leadership training including VCIC’s “Break the Cycle: Be the Change” assembly at Elkhardt and Huguenot last November. We are especially proud that the new student HEART program (Huguenot Engagement and Research Team) was catalyzed by a group of Huguenot teachers who...
#MoreThanAStereotype Campaign

#MoreThanAStereotype Campaign

Every day, people are bombarded with stereotypes. Ideas of who we are and what we should be. Limitations put on us based on our gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or class. Labels that limit people in the world, whether they’re accurate or not. In 2015, the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities joins with affiliates across the country to launch a national social media campaign titled #MoreThanAStereotype. This campaign is for EVERYONE. VCIC wants this campaign to go viral, bringing in participants from across the Commonwealth and the nation who want to show that each of us is more than meets the eye. HOW DO I GET INVOLVED? Download the poster template (11×17 version or 8.5×11 version) or contact our office to get a poster.  You can then print the template, write down a stereotype that you defy, and take a picture of yourself holding the sign. During the week of January 5, 2015, post your picture on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter with the hashtag #MoreThanAStereotype, and tag VCIC: Facebook – Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities Instagram – inclusive_va Twitter – @inclusiveva Together, let’s show the world that we are...
Recent Headlines Expose Disparities in Virginia Schools

Recent Headlines Expose Disparities in Virginia Schools

It seems that we are reminded every day of the need for the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities‘ work.  From workplace harassment to community unrest to disparities in educational outcomes, the need for focused and sustained work on issues of diversity and inclusion remains. This weekend, three headlines about Virginia’s schools particularly stand out: “Feds: Norfolk Schools Ignored Bullying, Harassment” – This cover story in The Virginian-Pilot describes “a federal investigation [that] has found Norfolk Public Schools negligent in handling complaints in middle and high schools about sexual harassment and treatment of students with disabilities.” “High School Arrests in Henrico Vary With Race” – This article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch exposes the fact that 80% of students arrested in Henrico County Public Schools are black, even though black students make up only 37% of the students in the district. “Lynchburg Hopes to Remove Obstacles to Black Students’ Success” – This article in the News & Advance outlines efforts underway in Lynchburg City Schools to address the fact that “a disproportionately small number of black students [are placed] in the division’s advanced and accelerated courses.” VCIC’s Educational Equity Initiative and Emerging Leaders Institute programs provide a range of interventions to address these and other achievement, treatment, and opportunity gaps.  We look forward to working more closely with these and other school divisions to ensure that Virginia’s schools are inclusive for...
Supporter Spotlight: Eric Luu

Supporter Spotlight: Eric Luu

Eric Luu, a 2012 Connections Institute graduate and rising senior at Glen Allen High School, is completing his required internship for the Center for Education and Human Development at VCIC this summer and fall.  He is also raising funds through the “20/20 Campaign: A Vision for a More Inclusive Virginia.”  These are his reflections: Hello! My name is Eric Luu, a senior in the Center for Education and Human Development at Glen Allen High School. Currently, I am an intern at Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities (VCIC), and honestly, I’ve been anticipating my internship all summer! The reason for my excitement dates back to when I was first introduced to this organization in 2012 when I attended Connections, a program made and facilitated by VCIC. Many people will tell you Connections is life-changing, eye-opening, and incredibly impactful. I am one of those people! What I had experienced at Connections was a humongous leap in character. I came in to Connections unaware of how prevalent and influential racism, gender stereotyping, and gender roles were in everyday lives, especially those who had been impacted negatively from it. Hearing people’s stories, understanding my own, and learning about how to better both myself for my own sake as well as society’s sake spoke to me in ways no one had spoken to me before…because no one had introduced these types of conversations to me before! If anything, I learned that humanity has hope, because if I was able to connect so strongly with other individuals in a week, then I can surely do the same for the rest of my life. Interestingly enough,...

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