Women Form Bond Crossing Over The Bridge of Peace

Sondra Cosgrove, Katherine Duncan Barlett, Karen Bennett-Haron and Monica Lenoir

Sondra Cosgrove, Katherine Duncan Barlett, Karen Bennett-Haron and Monica Lenoir

By Jessica Itzep

Solving Racism “The Role of Women as Peace Makers” was held on College of Southern Nevada’s Cheyenne campus March 26. The event was held as part of Women’s History Month.

The topic of racism needs discussion and the purpose of this event was to encourage it.

“The more voices and leaders we have discussing the issue the more we will be able to face legacies of past wrongs and create real solutions for improving our community in the future,” said Dr. Sondra Cosgrove, history professor at CSN and president of League of Women Voters in Las Vegas. “I hope we can keep this conversation going, but to do that we all must be willing to engage in these tough conversations.”

Three panelists spoke about their experiences with racism, growing up in tough environments and how they overcame issues to become strong leaders today.

Katherine Duncan Bartlett, president of Las Vegas Ward 5 Chamber of Commerce, was on the panel. She shared her discovery process in learning about her heritage and her ancestor’s past as slaves.

Karen Bennett-Haron, the first African-American female Judge in Nevada, discussed the challenges she faced through school and on her way to judgeship.

Cosgrove spoke about her childhood and her parents’ resistance to her hanging out with anyone of color. She remembers her parents being upset with her when she went to a dance with an African-American boy.

Cosgrove said, “To make our society innovative and vibrant we all need to learn about the successes and failures of the past. We waste time and precious resources if we continue to repeat past mistakes. So teaching about racism ensures we all have the historical tools necessary to improve our community, government and interpersonal relationships.”

“Racism is a waste of time,” said Monica Lenoir, CEO of Network Nevada who moderated the panel. “Your future is brighter without it.”

Approximately 50 guests from the community and CSN attended the event.

The event closed with The Bridge of Peace, a symbolic practice, led by Mary Hida, vice chairwoman for the Las Vegas chapter of Women’s Federation for World Peace, an organization committed to providing women with opportunities to create relationships through talks, forums, conferences and service projects.

The Bridge of Peace

The Bridge of Peace

To do The Bridge of Peace women from diverse backgrounds lined up on both sides of the bridge. One from each side would walk over the bridge stopping in the middle to greet the other. They would shake hands, bow, hug or kiss demonstrating each woman’s willingness to let go of past hurts and accept a new friendship in peace.These sacred interactions presented opportunities for these women to share forgiveness. They crossed over from fear, prejudice, resentment and pain, to joy, acceptance, understanding and love.

This practice is used around the world. According to the WFWP’s website, “[The Bridge of Peace] has been used to heal racism by uniting women and girls in multicolor bouquets of sisterhood.”

Hida shared an example. “During the 1900s the International Friendship Conference brought more than 100,000 Japanese women to Korea, as ambassadors for peace and goodwill, to heal the historical enmity between the two nations. A profound healing Bridge of Peace ceremony was introduced as a way to create sisterhood between the women.”

“Understanding different culture is important every day,” said Kimiyo Anceney, WFWP chairwoman of Las Vegas and guest at the event. She mentioned solving racism isn’t easy.

“Although there was no conclusion on ‘solving racism’ it is an important subject to discuss in order to move forward,” Hida said. The Bridge of Peace was a good first step.

For more information visit Women’s Federation for World Peace at http://wfwp.us/.

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