Encore Magazine August 2021

Page 14


Seeking Racial Equity

SHARE’s new director works for ‘real change’ in Kalamazoo by


equity begins at the dinner table. “We have to hold each other accountable for us to see any real change in Kalamazoo,” says Lymon, who took over as the new executive director of the local Society for History and Racial Equity (SHARE) in April. “It starts at the dinner table — families having conversations about race.” Lymon, 25, is only the second executive director of the organization, which works to promote racial equity and awareness of racism and provide education on Black heritage within the Kalamazoo community. Lymon replaces Donna Odom, who founded SHARE (originally the Southwest Michigan Black Heritage Society) in 2003 and served as its executive director for 18 years. Lymon is a Detroit native and a Western Michigan University graduate with a passion for social justice. In 2017 she was the student body president at WMU, where she graduated with a degree in criminal justice. After that, she worked as the social media and technology specialist for the Kalamazoo Defender’s office, a county office that provides representation to citizens charged with crimes. In addition, she was a legal assistant and the board liaison and facilitator for the office’s antiracism team. According to SHARE Board Co–President Caitlin Hoag, Lymon was selected for her new position at SHARE because she is “a highly organized, community–driven individual with strong experience in civic engagement, antiracism work and community outreach.” In addition, “her tech skills will help SHARE create a bigger impact on our increasingly digital world,” says Hoag.


Brian Powers

For Chianté Lymon, the quest for racial

Lymon believes her fresh perspective and knowledge from her previous positions can take the organization forward. “With all that’s going on in the community,” she says, referring to the heightened activism for racial justice that Kalamazoo experienced following the George Floyd murder in Minneapolis and the Proud Boys march here in August 2020, “it's important that we have leadership from someone that looks like me. Someone that's young, that's vibrant in the community and can take the organization to its next level.”

Chianté Lymon is the new executive director of SHARE.

Seeking to improve In a time of increased awareness of racial injustice, Lymon says SHARE has been contacted by several local organizations looking to implement training on racial equity and seeking help improving their efforts in that area. “Because of the things that have happened in the community, they are trying to push for change within their organizations and also making it mandatory for staff to do training,"

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