GVSU remembers King through week of events

GVSU remembers King through week of events

Ben Glick

The arrival of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day heralds a day without classes, and students peg an extra few hours to their weekend. But for many, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is anything but a day off, especially on the Grand Valley State University campus.

For faculty, staff and participating students, the day and the subsequent week will be devoted to many activities, demonstrations, discussions, films and speeches that commemorate King’s legacy.

The focus of this year’s events will be social justice and poverty. Events will take place across Grand Rapids at various venues, involving Davenport University and Grand Rapids Community College, but many important activities will take place on the GVSU Allendale Campus.

Beginning at 1 p.m. today in front of Zumberge Hall, students, faculty, staff and members of the community are encouraged to take part in a silent march across campus in commemoration of past struggles.

“This is a national holiday across the U.S. to celebrate the life of MLK,” said Bobby Springer, associate director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs. “We are picking up the torch to give recognition to (King) and to individuals who made differences during their lifetimes that brought them here.”

One of these notable people being brought to campus include Chuck D, a rapper, author and producer who helped create socially conscious rap music in the mid-1980s through the group Public Enemy. Chuck D will deliver a keynote presentation in the Grand River Room of the Kirkhof Center today at 1:30 p.m.

Chuck D will be accompanied by other speakers during the week that include MSNBC contributor and author Jeff Johnson, who will speak Jan. 22 in the Kirkhof Center at 5 p.m. on the topics of race relations and social justice.

Both men will be available for book signings after their presentations.

“We want to bring key individuals who will speak about MLK, and give us instruction on what we do now to keep the dream alive,” Springer said.

On Jan. 23, there will be a panel discussion over current abuses of social justice and the continuing impact of Trayvon Martin, whose Feb. 26, 2012, shooting in Sanford, Fla., and the resulting court case caused a great deal of controversy.

With all the events planned for the week commemorating King’s contribution to social justice, there are many who will ignore events on campus, but Springer encourages students to participate in the activities.

“Some people will make a long weekend out of the holiday, but some individuals, if they have the time, will partake in the cause,” Springer said. “King was about giving back to community. This is us giving back and making sure the teachings of Martin Luther King, Jr. continue, and it will take all of us to do that.”

Activities commemorating the holiday extend through Jan 25. For a full list of events, visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day commemoration week website at http://www.gvsu.edu/mlk

As you consider the Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., what do you identity as your personal dream for America?