More than 250 expected at first Black Boys and Men Symposium

More than 250 people are expected to participate in the Black Boys and Men Symposium, hosted by Grand Valley's Division of Enrollment Development and Educational Outreach, June 9-10 in Grand Rapids.

Organizers of the symposium said online registration remains open. The in-person conference will be held at the Amway Grand Plaza, 187 Monroe Ave. NW.

B. Donta Truss, vice president for Enrollment Development and Educational Outreach, said this conference offers opportunities for community leaders, educators and youth service providers to better understand the systems that impact the lives of Black boys and men, share best practices, and work to deconstruct and rebuild to create conditions for success.

"We want to acknowledge the realities that have shaped outcomes for Black men and boys in order to create new realities," Truss said. "For GVSU, the speakers and workshops at the symposium will help us look at our programming and services and see where they can be improved."

composite photo of at left, Jawanza Kunjufu and Michael Eric Dyson; text on Kunjufu's photo: Black Minds Matter in large font
Jawanza Kunjufu, at left, and Michael Eric Dyson are keynote speakers for the Black Boys and Men Symposium.
Image Credit: courtesy photos

Keynote speakers

Keynote speakers are Michael Eric Dyson and Jawanza Kunjufu

  • Dyson is the centennial chair at Vanderbilt University and serves as university distinguished professor of African American and diaspora studies and university distinguished professor of ethics and society in the Divinity School. A Detroit native, he is a New York Times contributing opinion writer, contributing editor of both The New Republic and ESPN's The Undefeated website. 
  • Kunjufu was educated at Morgan State, Illinois State and Union Graduate School. He has been a guest speaker at universities throughout the U.S. and a consultant to urban school districts. He has authored 40 books including national best sellers; the latest is "COVID 1619."

A "Sneaker Ball" on Thursday, June 9, will highlight the symposium's first day. Tickets for this event can be purchased separately for $100 with proceeds going to the Office of Multicultural Affairs Endowment Fund; tickets for the ball are included for conference participants. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. with a program beginning at 7 p.m.

Symposium sponsors are Warner Norcross and Judd LLP, Foster Swift Collins and Smith PC, Steelcase, Gazelle Sports, Reynolds and Sons, Michigan Education Association/MESSA/MEA Financial Services and Spectrum Health. Organizers of the conference include Marlene Kowalski-Braun, Barry Hall, Bobby Springer and Phillip Todd.