Slate of campus events planned to commemorate legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Grand Valley will commemorate the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with presentations from three keynote speakers, a silent march on campus and a day of service.

Events will run January 16-21. They are free and open to the public; some require online registration. The week's events are outlined below, for details, visit

This marks the second year Grand Valley will close on the King federal holiday, January 16, giving students, faculty and staff members an opportunity to attend community events.

GVSU President Philomena V. Mantella said she hopes the campus community continues to find King's legacy relevant to today's issues.

"As we pause to reflect on Dr. King’s life and the indelible impact he had on history, I hope our students and community members continue to take up the charge for educational access and social justice," Mantella said. "It can be a daunting task, but let’s remember what Dr. King himself said, 'If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.'"

The theme for GVSU's commemoration week is #RaceAndDemocracy.

three headshots into one photo of, from left, Jerry Wallace, Mary Frances Berry and Eddie Glaude Jr.
Three keynote speakers will give presentations on King's legacy next week at GVSU. From left are Jerry Wallace, Mary Frances Berry and Eddie Glaude Jr.
Image credit - courtesy photos

Schedule of events

Jan. 16: 37th Annual Community Commemoration, with keynote presentation from Eddie Glaude Jr., 6 p.m., Fountain Street Church, 24 Fountain St. NE, Grand Rapids.

Glaude is professor and chair of African American Studies at Princeton University. A prolific political commentator, Glaude is a regular MSNBC and Meet the Press contributor. He has written many books, including "Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul" and "Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own."

This event is a collaboration among Davenport University, Grand Rapids Community College and GVSU, with support from local sponsors.

Jan. 17: Eddie Glaude Jr. will give an in-person presentation at the Allendale Campus, Kirkhof Center, Grand River Room, at 10 a.m. This event will also be shared via a Zoom webinar; visit for the link.

Jan. 18: Silent march on the Allendale Campus will begin at 4 p.m. at Zumberge Hall. It will be led by GVSU alumnus Jerry Wallace, who will then give a presentation at the Kirkhof Center, Grand River Room, at 4:30 p.m. 

Wallace is the president of Danville Community College in Virginia. He graduated from GVSU in 2009 and played basketball and ran track for the Lakers. Wallace, a native of Muskegon, earned a master's degree from Western Michigan University and a doctoral degree from St. Thomas University. This event will also be shared via a Zoom webinar; visit for the link.

Jan. 19: The Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies and the Division of Inclusion and Equity present a keynote presentation by Mary Frances Berry, professor of American social thought and history at the University of Pennsylvania. Berry will discuss, "Race, Protest, & Politics: Where Do We Go From Here?" at 6 p.m. at the DeVos Center on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus. 

For more than 40 years, Berry has been an activist for civil rights, gender equality and social justice. As chair of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, Berry led the charge for equal rights and liberties for all Americans during four presidential administrations. 

This event will also be a Zoom webinar; visit for the webinar link.

Jan. 21: MLK Jr. Day of Service and Solidarity, presented in collaboration with the Talking Together initiative. Students and the public will engage in community service followed by lunch and an intergenerational panel discussion. Buses are available to transport students to Grand Rapids. Register online by Jan. 18 at


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