Cooperstown’s Friends of the Village Library group will offer a four-part virtual series on counteracting racism.

The Cooperstown Reflects series will begin with a discussion about the history and demographics of Cooperstown and current issues, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 23.

Liane Hirabayashi and co-host Dr. Namita Sugandh will moderate a discussion with panelists Lee Fisher of the Oneonta NAACP, Will Walker of the Cooperstown Graduate Program, Jennifer Dibble, organizer of the Say Their Names-Cooperstown exhibit, and Daniel Maskin, chief executive officer of Opportunities For Otsego.

The program will consist of four virtual panel discussions “examining how our local community and institutions are impacted by racism and steps we must take to confront bias and inequities locally to develop a more equitable Cooperstown,” according to organizers

Lynne Mebust, vice president of FOWL, said the series drew from current events and is an outgrowth of the village’s Sunday Program Series, which will also be virtual this fall.

“There was a group of us who thought, with thing going on with a national conversation about racism that it would be nice to have a community discussion,” Mebust said. “We were able to get a large number of people interesting in taking part. A lot of people want to be a part of this.

“When we’ve been having conversations with leaders of these local institutions, I think everybody is on the same page about the need for these discussions,” she continued.

The first program will give context to Cooperstown’s history, from Mohawk era to modern day. Mebust said the past several hundred years, Cooperstown has mirrored upstate New York demographics and has lacked much diversity. However, Bassett Hospital has changes the dynamics somewhat recently, she said, including bring a large number of international residents and doctors to the village and the community, many of whom are people of color.

“We do have a developing international community, both in the village of Cooperstown and in the surrounding area, largely because of Bassett,” she said.

The other three discussions will focus on racism is education, tourism and health care.

The racism in tourism panel will take place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 30. Hirabayashi will moderate with co-host Molly Myers. The panelists will be Tim Mead, president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Jim Miles, general manager of The Otesaga Hotel; Cassandra Harrington, executive director of Destination Marketing Corp. of Otsego County; Cindy Rodriquez of Adirondack Diversity Solutions; and Dietra Harvey, consultant and trainer for Destiny Does Happen.

The racism and education panel will take place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15. Hirabayashi will moderate with co-host Joann Gardner. The panelists will be Mary Bonderoff, interim vice president for student affairs and chief diversity officer at SUNY Morrisville, Rebecca Burke-Sciallo and Angela Eldred, teachers in the Cooperstown High School English Department; William Crankshaw, outgoing superintendent of Cooperstown Central School, and Luvell Brown, superintendent of Ithaca City School District and author of “Culture of Love: Cultivating a Positive and Transformational Organizational Culture.”

The panel on racism and health care will take place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 28. Hirabayashi will moderate with co-host Dr. Caridad Fuertes. The panelists will include: Dr. Reggie Knight, director of Spine Care Institute, Bassett Healthcare; Dr. Subashini Daniel, attending surgeon of cardiac surgery at Bassett Healthcare; Dr. Jim Dalton, director of Medical Education at Bassett Healthcare; Vince Solomon, psychiatric social worker; and Candice Shannon, social psychologist/sociologist.

The programs will be held via Zoom and are available to be viewed by people who pre-register for them. Mebust said the programs will also be recorded and posted on FOVL’s website and social media platforms.

Go to fowl.eventbright.com to register and get a link to the programs. Go to www.villagelibraryofcooperstown.org for more information.

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