Race and prison system focus of Fresno City College panel

The Fresno BeeMay 21, 2014 

Racism and the prison system will be the focus of a Thursday panel discussion organized by faith leaders at the Fresno City College auditorium.

"Race and the Prison System" is the third part of a "Race in Fresno" series co-hosted by Faith in Community, the No Name Fellowship and Fresno City College.

The series is meant to raise awareness about how perceptions of race can cause divisiveness in Fresno. Another goal is to "build bridges" that unite people where racial and ethnic divisions have persisted.

Thursday's free event will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. at Fresno City College, 1101 E. University Ave.

Panelists include: the Rev. Michael McBride, National director of PICO's "Lifelines to Healing" campaign; Reza Nekumanesh, Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno; Stephanie Kamey, American Civil Liberties Union; Noe Hernandez, Fresno Pacific University; and Oliver Baines, Fresno City Council member. Moderator will be the Rev. Sofia Betancourt, with Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno.

A major event planned by Faith in Community will be held May 31, titled "Prophetic Vision for One Fresno: Equality and Dignity for Everyone in Every Place." The event is meant as a gathering of Fresno congregations and community members to address what they see as the biggest issues facing the city.

The free event, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Fresno High School auditorium, 1839 N. Echo Ave., will feature a number of community speakers addressing issues tackled over the past year. Topics include immigration, substandard rental housing, crime, "predatory" payday lenders, and Fresno's general plan update.

Organizers will also be asking citizens to share what issues they feel are the most important to address in the coming year.

Free bus transport to the event is also available. For more information, visit faithinfresno.org, facebook.com/faithincommunity or email faithincommunity@ficpico.org. Or follow the group on Twitter @FIC_Fresno.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6386, cgeorge@fresnobee.com or @CarmenGeorge on Twitter.

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