Speakers for MLK Commemoration Week announced

GVL / Courtesy - GVSU.edu
Patrisse Cullors

GVL / Courtesy – GVSU.edu Patrisse Cullors

Drew Howard

Plans for the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Week at Grand Valley State University are already underway as a nationally recognized writer and a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement have been tapped to speak to the campus community.

Author, journalist and television personality Touré is scheduled to speak at GVSU on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January. Well known for his previous co-host position on the MSNBC show “The Cycle,” Touré is also a contributor to “Rolling Stone” as well as an author of several books.

Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, will follow Touré with her speech on Jan. 20. Started in 2013 after the shooting of Trayvon Martin, the Black Lives Matter movement is devoted to ending unlawful police brutality against African Americans.The theme of this year’s MLK Commemoration Week is “Activate Your Activism.”

Bobby J. Springer, co-chair of the MLK committee and associate director of the office of multicultural affairs said the committee aimed to choose speakers who would bring a well-rounded perspective on the issues of race occurring in today’s society. 

“The good thing about these individuals is that they have a wide view because of their travels and interactions with different communities,” Springer said. “They travel and see this theme, this pattern that happens in the country. That’s what’s been so special about some of the speakers we have, because they are well-traveled and have a wealth of knowledge to share with a campus like GVSU.”

In addition to speaking at GVSU,Touré will present at Grand Rapids Community College as well as Davenport University. Springer said the MLK Executive Committee chose Neblett after he was unable to be scheduled last year for the same event.

Kin Ma, faculty co-chair for the MLK Executive Committee, said Cullors was chosen for her unique position in the social justice movement.

“We aim to bring relevant speakers to campus that will contribute to the national discussion of the recent and continuing violence against black people across our nation,” Ma said. “We especially chose Cullors who has been at the forefront of social justice activism for black people, and think she will effectively raise this awareness at GVSU and the West Michigan community.”

The GVSU community will have the opportunity to interact with both speakers.Touré is expected to take part in a silent march leading up to his presentation at the Fieldhouse Arena which will be followed by a public book signing.

Prior to her presentation, Cullors is tentatively scheduled to take part in a workshop with GVSU’s local Black Lives Matter branch. This workshop is expected to last for an hour, Springer said.

Despite classes being canceled for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Ma said he encourages students to stay on campus to participate in the various events scheduled for the day as well as the rest of the week.

“Students will gain greater first-hand insight and stories from people who have been active in seeking justice for black Americans across the United States,” he said. “We hope it will inspire students to use their learning to be involved in their campus and larger community.”

Other events scheduled for MLK Commemoration Week include a campus-wide Teach-In on Jan. 21 and the annual MLK Day of Service on Jan. 23.

For more information about MLK Commemoration Week, go to www.gvsu.edu/mlk.