Slate of speakers will reflect on legacy of King during commemoration week events

To commemorate the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Grand Valley will host four virtual or in-person presentations by speakers and a day of service.

The annual commemoration week will run January 17-22 with the theme, #EquityinEducation. All events are free and open to the public, more details are online at

This marks the first year Grand Valley will be closed in recognition of the national holiday (Monday, January 17). President Philomena V. Mantella announced that decision last June during a Board of Trustees meeting, acting on a recommendation from the university's Network of Advisors for Racial Justice.

headshot of Cheryl Brown Henderson
Cheryl Brown Henderson is the founding president of the Brown Foundation for Educational Equity, Excellence and Research; she will give a virtual presentation on January 17.
Image credit - courtesy photo

Monday, January 17, 2 p.m.

Cheryl Brown Henderson will discuss her family's legacy as one of the plaintiffs in the 1954 landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, Brown v. the Board of Education, Topeka, Kansas.

Henderson's virtual presentation will air at 2 p.m. via Zoom webinar. Register online at to receive the webinar link.

Henderson was one of three daughters of the late Rev. Oliver L. Brown, who in the fall of 1950 along with 12 other parents in Topeka, Kansas, led by attorneys for the NAACP, filed suit on behalf of their children against the local Board of Education. Her sister, Linda, was at the center of case that rejected racial segregation in American schools.

Henderson is the founding president of the Brown Foundation for Educational Equity, Excellence and Research, and owner of Brown & Associates, an educational consulting firm.

Jamillah Ali-Joyce sitting in a chair
Jamillah Ali-Joyce will be in a conversation with Louis Moore on January 18 about the life and legacy of her father, Muhammad Ali.
Image credit - courtesy photo

Tuesday, January 18, 7 p.m.

WGVU Public Media presents Jamillah Ali-Joyce, daughter of famed boxer and activist Muhammad Ali, in conversation with Louis Moore, GVSU associate professor of history. The virtual event will explore questions about Muhammad Ali, his life and family, his Islamic faith and activism.

This program will premiere at 7 p.m. Tuesday on YouTube WGVU35 and online at

Jamillah Ali-Joyce is a job counselor for the Illinois Secretary of State Department of Personnel. She earned a bachelor's degree in communications from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. Ali-Joyce lives in Chicago with her husband and three children; they are active members of local Chicago charities.

headshot of Littisha Bates
Littisha Bates will give a presentation on January 19 in the Kirkhof Center, seating is limited.
Image credit - courtesy photo

Wednesday, January 19, 4:30 p.m.

GVSU graduate Littisha Bates returns to campus for an in-person presentation Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. in the Kirkhof Center, Grand River Room. Seating is limited to allow for social distancing.

Bates, ’04, serves the University of Cincinnati as the inaugural associate dean for inclusive excellence and community partnerships and an associate professor of sociology, with affiliation with the Africana Studies Department. During her time at Grand Valley, Bates participated as a TRIO McNair Scholar, a program that prepares students for post-graduate studies. She earned a doctoral degree from Arizona State University.  

headshot of Elijah Anderson
Elijah Anderson will give a virtual presentation on January 20.
Image credit - courtesy photo

Thursday, January 20, 7 p.m.

Elijah Anderson, author and Yale University Sterling professor of sociology and African American Studies, will discuss his new book, "Black in White Space: The Enduring Impact of Color in Everyday Life," in a Zoom webinar.

The webinar will begin Thursday at 7 p.m. Details: ( or call in at US: +1 (929) 205-6099 Webinar ID: 872 2239 4732)

The event is sponsored by the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies and the Division of Inclusion and Equity.

In his book, Anderson argues that "symbolic racism" connects people of color to crime and poverty in the American psyche, regardless of social status or economic position.

Saturday, January 22

The Community Service Learning Center will host activities from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. in the Kirkhof Center. The Day of Service and Solidarity will include a keynote speaker, service projects, lunch, panel discussion and workshops. Visit for more information.


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