Hundreds expected to attend fifth annual Unity in Diversity Concert

FLINT, Michigan — Over 200 people will gather in the Insight Institute of Neurosurgery and Neuroscience (IINN) building to attend the fifth annual Unity in Diversity Concert, a call for celebration in differences and community.

“In this moment of great division that we’re seeing nationally, we want to celebrate how diverse our own local community is and highlight the talent of the wonderful people we have here,” said event organizer Carrie Walling.

Slated for 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, the Unity in Diversity Concert is a newfound Flint tradition that was originally started inAudience interaction is a key element in the concert. Midway through the program, the audience is invited to participate in a traditional Arab line dance called Dabke. 2015 to combat a rise in hate crimes and racial tensions. It’s an event free to the public, with food, line dancing, and music.

Every year the concert is prompted by a sense of urgency to respond to a world event. This year’s theme is “Dreams for the Decade” inspired by the collective strength of the Flint community in contrast to the political polarization in the face of the 2020 election. Last year’s Unity in Diversity Concert was a response to the tragic shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

Five years ago, Matt Parker, choir director at Mott Community College, noticed a rise in anti-Muslim rhetoric across the nation. That, along with the arrest of Flint resident Amir Hekmati by the Iranian government, prompted Parker to team up with local Flint attorney Muna Jondy to create the Unity in Diversity Concert.

“We wanted to promote the idea [that] we’re tired of reacting to this division and intolerance and instead we’re taking control and saying, ‘This is what we dream as a community for the next decade. This is what we want out future to look like. We want it to be unified and inclusive,’ ” said Walling.

The emcee of this year’s concert will be local Flint celebrity and news anchor Dawn Jones, who will introduce acts like a flamenco guitar trio, a spoken word artist, a Russian violinist, a choir, a singing trio, and blues singer Eddie “Blues” Barney.

The event is sponsored by the Flint Islamic Center, the Flint Jewish Federation, Court Street United Methodist Church, Mott Community College, the International Center of Greater Flint, and the Arab American Heritage Council. Community organizations will present a vendor table at the concert.

For more information contact Carrie Walling at [email protected] or at 810-247-3408.

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Read more articles by Sara Alouh.