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Nazareth College partners with 540 West Main to give students access to anti-racism workshops

Calvin Eaton presenting an anti-racism workshop prior to the COVID-19 pandemic

540 West Main founder Calvin Eaton said the organization took their social justice themed workshops online because of the COVID-19 pandemic and with that came opportunity.

“We’ve now been connecting with people as far away as Australia, all different parts of New York, Boston, Toronto, the west coat,” said Eaton. “It's not just people tuning into a webinar, it's a discussion and a dialogue.”

The added flexibility connected the organization with local colleges as well. Nazareth College is the first local organization to partner with the non-profit. The agreement allows Nazareth students in the College's Partners for Learning and Partners for Serving programs to access the workshop.

Freshman Nina DeMilta said she was one of roughly 100 students that have taken the courses so far. 

DiMilta said she learned a lot about herself during the sessions like “Introduction to Anti-racism Practice” and “What to Black Women is the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment?” The 19th Amendment allowed women in all states the right to vote.

After the lectures, DeMilta said the students formed small groups and she was able to connect with people across Rochester. 

“It was just a new experience because instead of reading it or watching it you actually have a one on one conversation with these groups of people,” said DiMilta. “Everyone was open about communicating their feelings and about their biases and they were very open about these biases.

Eaton said he plans to bring back some in person courses after the pandemic but said his company will stay mostly online for the foreseeable future. The courses are available to the public and Eaton is hoping for more businesses to partner with.

James Brown is a reporter with WXXI News. James previously spent a decade in marketing communications, while freelance writing for CITY Newspaper. While at CITY, his reporting focused primarily on arts and entertainment.