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East Lansing Church Plans 'Diversity Festival' At Same Time of Alt-Right Speaker

pastor_kit_carlson.jpg
Reginald Hardwick
/
WKAR-MSU
Rev. Kit Carlson, All Saints Episcopal Church in East Lansing

For people seeking a different viewpoint of white nationalist Richard Spencer during his speech at Michigan State University on Monday, the All Saints Episcopal Church in East Lansing is planning an event at the same time Spencer is speaking. 

The church's pastor Rev. Kit Carlson spoke with WKAR's Reginald Hardwick on Thursday.

CARLSON: So we decided to plan this counter event, it's not a counter-protest, it's really a counter-party. We're calling the 'celebrate diversity festival and we have inside and outside activities. And its just been amazing how all kinds of groups have come together to support this. I can't say enough about the wonderful student groups at MSU: council of graduate students, ASMU, Residence Hall Association, Interfraternity, Panhellenic, the MSU College Democrats, the MSU College Republicans, the student Libertarians have all joined to support and sponsor this event. Its been just incredible.

HARDWICK: For people who say Richard Spencer is articulate and not very offensive, maybe his message is not so hateful, what do you say about that?

CARLSON: Wherever he goes, he is surrounded by people who are violent, who promote messages of hate. Those are the kinds of people he incites and encourages and inspires. I'm not going to hear Richard Spencer. He's going to be in an auditorium with 300 of his best friends. But I know who he's going to be outside that auditorium and what they're going to be saying. And it's not well-spoken and it's not polite and it's not kind. And it's not anything we stand for in this community.

HARDWICK: Back to your event, how are you celebrating different cultures?

Monday 4-7pm: Diversity Festival at All Saints Church, 800 Abbot Road, East Lansing

CARLSON: We're going to have an inside and an outside stage. Outside is a DJ who we're working on a set list with some students from MSU so it will be world music, a diversity of cultures and diversity of age ranges.  A music program with a diverse slate of speakers including Rabbi Amy Bigman, Rabbi Shaarey Zedek,  Oscar Casteneda, who is an organizer of civil rights for immigrants, Ashley Fuente who's with the council of graduate students. So we'll have a diverse range of speakers. 

Inside we have an indoor acoustic stage that's going to have the poet laureate of Lansing, the Dangling Participles who are English professors at MSU, classical Indian dance group and a variety of spoken word and musical acts. We're going to have food from Sultans inside. Refugee service organizations are going to be there to sign up volunteers and supporters for the different refugee agencies.

HARDWICK: As a leader in this community, do you have people who are concerned about and have expressed concerned in a rise of white supremacy, a rise in the rhetoric?

CARLSON: It's a very warm if not hot topic right now and I think it's a really appropriate conversation for us to be having at all kinds of levels. Particularly I think white supremacy is a white people's problem and those of us who are white should step up and do something about it and not expect the target populations to say 'this is bad.' It is up to us to say white supremacy is a bad idea, everyone has equal dignity in this world. 

HARDWICK: What is the message that you hope Richard Spencer gets when he comes to MSU?

CARLSON: That this community is not anything that's really interested in anything that he has to say.

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