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GVSU holds MLK commemoration week

Photo of Mural of Martin Luther King Jr.
Diocese of Grand Rapids

The week-long event commemorates the life and work of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with educational lectures and hands-on service projects.

West Michiganders interested in participating in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. days of education and service, can look to Grand Valley State University for virtual, in-person and hands-on opportunities.

The university is celebrating the life of Dr. King with its annual week-long commemoration, including a keynote speaker series and volunteer service events.

This year GVSU's lecture series surrounds race and democracy will be available both virtually and in-person. It welcomes three keynote speakers:

Eddie Glaude Jr. | Tuesday, January 17, 10 a.m. in GVSU's Kirkhof Center, Grand River Room.

Eddie Glaude Jr. is one of the country's most prominent scholars.

The James S. McDonnell distinguished university professor and chair of the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University, Glaude is an author, political commentator, public intellectual and passionate educator who examines the complex dynamics of the American experience.

His writings, including "Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul," "In a Shade of Blue: Pragmatism and the Politics of Black America," and the most recent, "Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for our Own," take a wide look at Black communities, the difficulties of race in the United States and the challenges the country faces as a democracy.

Glaude is also on the Morehouse College Board of Trustees. He frequently appears in the media, as a columnist for Time Magazine and as an MSNBC contributor. He regularly appears on "Meet the Press" on Sundays.

Jerry Wallace | January 18, 4:30 p.m. in GVSU's Kirkhof Center, Grand River Room.

Jerry Wallace is the president of Danville Community College in Virginia. At 38, he is among the youngest college presidents in the U.S. and the youngest president in the history of the Virginia Community College System. Prior to his new role, Wallace served as president of the Hastings Campus at Nebraska Central Community College and its division vice president for skilled and technical sciences and business.

Wallace, a native of Muskegon, has a passion for educating others and has worked six years in K-12 education and 11 years in higher education. While at Central Community College, Wallace established an alumni weekend, launched an employee volunteer program in the community and led the college's apprenticeship department, which resulted in more than 11 apprenticeship opportunities for students and a $4 million federal grant.

Recently Wallace was named by Virginia Business Magazine as one of the Top 100 People to Meet in 2023. He also was selected by the Viewpoint documentary series as a “Leader in the Future of Community College Education.” The series hosted by Dennis Quaid will air in early 2023 on CNN, Discovery Channel and Public Television.

Mary Frances Berry | January 19, 6 p.m., at GVSU's DeVos Center, Loosemore Auditorium

Mary Frances Berry is the Geraldine R. Segal professor of American Social Thought and history at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of 12 books and has had a distinguished career in public service. From 1980-2004, she was a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; from 1977-1980, Berry served as the assistant secretary for education in the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.

For more than four decades, Berry has been one of the most visible and respected activists in the cause of civil rights, gender equality and social justice. Serving as chair of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, Berry led the charge for equal rights and liberties for all Americans over the course of four presidential administrations. A moving speaker who makes history come alive, Berry believes that each generation has the responsibility to make a dent in the wall of injustice. She continues to speak boldly for those who can't speak for themselves and motivates all of us to take action. Her clarion call challenges everyone to stand up, stand tall and to never give up the fight.

Day of Solidarity and Service

The MLK Jr. Day of Service and Solidarity is part of a national day of service where campuses across America gather together to serve and stand in solidarity with their communities in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Each year, this event is coordinated by the Office of Student Life - Civic Engagement in collaboration with the MLK Week Executive Planning Committee. This year's Day of Service and Solidarity is also being held in collaboration with the Talking Togetherinitiative and will feature an added focus on intergenerational dialogue through partnering students and senior community members for the day. The goals of this event are to educate participants about the Civil Rights movement; inspire people to engage in their communities by listening, learning, and advocating for social change on campus and beyond; and to learn from one another through intergenerational conversations as people work side by side.

An intergenerational panel of community leaders will discuss the legacy of Dr. King and the future of his vision for justice in the community.

Registration for the MLK Jr. Day of Service and Solidarity closes on January 18.

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