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Bishop's Diversity Task Force Met With Community Frustration

Bishop Earl Boyea stands with the members of the task force.
Katie Cook
Bishop Earl Boyea stands with the members of the task force.

Bishop Earl Boyea announced the formation of a task force on Race and Catholic Schools Tuesday afternoon.


Bishop Boyea announced the members of the task force on race during a press conference at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in East Lansing Tuesday. He appointed Dr. Joan Jackson Johnson to chair the task force of 17 members. Johnson is Lansing’s director of Human Relations and Community Services.


The Bishop says one of the express purposes of the task force is to specifically listen to people of color and recommend ideas to better serve the needs of racial and ethnic minorities in the Catholic schools.


The announcement of the task force was met with frustration from some parents of students at Lansing Catholic High, and the elementary school Immaculate Heart of Mary St. Casimir. Students at these schools were punished for kneeling during the national anthem and Pledge of Allegiance last fall, but the disciplinary policies at both schools remain unclear.    

Michael Lynn III is one of the Lansing High football players who was benched for kneeling during the anthem and he later transferred to different school. He stood up and asked for an apology and was interrupted by the Bishop.

“Michael, I apologize to you that you were hurt by this,” he said.


Lynn said he appreciated the apology, but he really needed it sooner.


“You asked for it, I’m giving it to you now. I apologize that you were hurt,” the Bishop repeated.


Later, Lynn’s mother Erica Lynn expressed how she was feeling.

“Right now I’m frustrated and hurt, I’m hurt that the Bishop literally just spit an apology out at my son.”

The task force held its first meeting after the press conference, where parents were given more time to voice their concerns.


The task force will be holding some listening sessions to hear from voices from all parts of the diocese. They are expected to make recommendations to Bishop Boyea about how Diocese of Lansing Catholic Schools can better listen to racial and ethnic minorities by next fall.


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