race relations

Thomas Jefferson portrait
Wikimedia Commons

Many Americans revere Thomas Jefferson as a founding father establishing the principles of a young republic. Jefferson was also a slave owner and DNA suggests he fathered children with Sally Hemings. What do we do with that information today?

Two scholars visiting Grand Valley’s Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies tackle the troubled crossroads of race and American memory.

“What’s the point of talking about Jefferson at this time moment since he seems to represent a past we are reputiating.”

According to a recent study by Wallet Hub, the city of Grand Rapids ranked 206 out of 500 when it comes to ethnic diversity. 

“So just looking at Grand Rapids, about 72% of the city was born in the state of Michigan," Wallet Hub researcher Jill Gonzalez said. "That’s higher than usual. Usually we see that number from 50-60% of that in-state of residents’ birthplace. When we’re looking at those born in a foreign nation it’s a little bit higher than the state average at about 10%.”

KUOW.org / Naomi Ishisaka

Activist, Author and creator of the website BK Nation, Kevin Powell, was keynote speaker at Grand Valley State University’s Martin Luther King Day celebration. WGVU asked Powell about the future of race relations in America following the contentious 2016 Presidential Election.