Chuck D kicks off MLK week

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A standing-room-only audience packed into Kirkhof Center on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day to hear from legendary rapper Chuck D.

The founder of Public Enemy was the keynote speaker to kick off the start of Grand Valley’s MLK Commemoration Week on January 20.

Speaking for nearly an hour, he emphasized the importance of earning a college degree and learning more about the world. “Dr. King wanted his children to be known for their character, not their characteristics,” he said. “To design your insides takes grinding.”

He also reminded the audience why they were there. “This is not a day off; it’s a day to think about why we do this, it’s a day of reflection and thought,” he said.

Then he pushed the audience into action by referencing a Third World song “Now That We Found Love.”

“What are you gonna do with what you know?” he said.

Prior to Chuck D’s presentation, the audience heard from the Fisk Jubilee Singers, from Fisk University. The gospel choir’s appearance was made possible by the collaboration of Seidman College of Business and Fisk University (H. James Williams, president of Fisk University, and Carole Williams).

Before introducing the choir, H. James Williams said it was good be back at Grand Valley. Williams served as dean of Seidman College of Business.

“I’ve learned a lot about how to run an organization,” Williams said. “Grand Valley knows how to do it correctly, and I’ve taken a lot of that knowledge with me to Nashville.”

The day started with concurrent social justice activities, and hundreds of people participated in poverty simulations or upcycling events. Events will continue through Saturday. Next is the second keynote presentation by Jeff Johnson on Wednesday, January 22. Visit for details.