Encore Magazine September 2020

Page 16


Fighting for Equity

Kalamazoo women are on the front lines

Brian Powers

Brian Powers


Lifelong challenges brought on by racial

inequities have shaped four Kalamazoo women into the people they are today and influenced the work they do. For Candy McCorkle, Evelyn WinfieldThomas, DeMarra West and Donna Odom, their daily work is focused on the elimination of policies, practices, attitudes and cultural assumptions that reinforce different outcomes based on people’s race or ethnicity, although that is not the limit of their equity work. McCorkle, vice president of diversity and inclusion at Western Michigan University,


Above, from left, Demarra West, Evelyn WinfieldThomas and Donna Odom, and Candy McCorkle, pictured at right, are actively working to combat racism and inequity in the community.

says her work seeking equity began early, since she is Black. The Dayton, Ohio, native says that after kindergarten she was tested and deemed gifted and sent across town to a predominantly white school with students from higher economic backgrounds. In this new setting, outside of her neighborhood, there were only a few Black students, and she had to quickly learn how to live bi-culturally, she says.