BLOOMINGTON — "Bridging Divides, Becoming Allies" is the title of the 2017 Illinois State University Culturally Responsive Campus Community (CRCC) Conference, which will be Nov. 6-7 at ISU's Bone Student Center.

The event will include panel discussions, presentations and interactive workshops on topics including ageism, LGBTQ issues, race and the wage gap.

"The goal of the conference is to create spaces that work to bridge divides and challenge us all to become better allies," CRCC member Stacey Hardin said in a prepared statement. "The conference will explore current systems of oppression in place in the surrounding community and understanding what it means to challenge and dismantle systems of oppression."

Participants will be encouraged to gain skills to confront biases and misconceptions.

The conference, which is free and open to the public, is being co-sponsored by YWCA McLean County.

"This past year, we have suffered devastating environmental and economic losses and endured direct attacks on the rights of immigrants, LGBTQ folks and people of color," said Jennifer Carrillo, YWCA mission impact director. People opposed to oppression need to organize and build power, she said.

"In our current political climate, it is so important for the entire community to come together and find solutions to the issues our community faces," said Hardin, an assistant professor in special education at ISU.

The conference will include keynote speakers Carole Boston Weatherford and Franchesca Ramsey.

Boston Weatherford, a New York Times best-selling author who teaches at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina, will speak from 10:45 to 11:45 a.m. Nov. 6.

Ramsey — an actress, writer and video blogger based in New York City — will speak 6:30 p.m. Nov. 6.

Among presentations will be a play, "The Verdict: A Fight for Justice," by YWCA's Stepping Stones program, at 11:15 a.m. Nov. 7. Stepping Stones is YWCA's sexual assault prevention and response program.

Follow Paul Swiech on Twitter: @pg_swiech

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