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Speakers highlight MLK commemoration week

  • two headshots: David Stovall and Shannon Cohen
  • two people standing

Posted on January 14, 2019

Two speakers, an expert on the influence of race in urban education and an alumna who speaks to the hearts of difference makers, will give presentations that highlight Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Week at Grand Valley.

With the theme, #BreaktheSilence, Grand Valley's events will run January 21-26. Events are free and open to the public, note: some events require online registration.

David Stovall, professor of African American studies and criminology, law and justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago, will give an address on January 21 in the Fieldhouse Arena beginning at 1:30 p.m. The event is approved for LIB 100/201 courses. Stovall studies the influence of race in urban education, community development, and housing. His work investigates the significance of race in the quality of schools located in communities that are changing both racially and economically.

Stovall will also speak at Fountain Street Church in Grand Rapids at 6 p.m. on January 21, highlighting the 33rd annual King community program. The event is sponsored by GVSU, Grand Rapids Community College and Davenport University. It is free and open to the public, doors will open at 5:30 p.m.

Grand Valley alumna Shannon Cohen, ’99 and ’11, will give a presentation on campus on January 23 in the Kirkhof Center, Pere Marquette Room, at 4:30 p.m. The event is approved for LIB 100/201 courses. Cohen is the founder and principal of Shannon Cohen, Inc., a boutique firm specializing in providing emotional health strategies to leaders and difference makers. She is a W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Leadership Network Fellow, and is the co-founder of Sisters Who Lead, a talent and wellness affinity group for women of color.

Highlights are below and more information is online at Most events are on January 21, which marks the seventh year classes have been canceled on the national King holiday, allowing more students, faculty and staff members to participate.

Monday, January 21

• 9:30-11:30 a.m.: Upcycling, Kirkhof Center, Pere Marquette Room

• 10:30-11:30 a.m.: Workshop: Back to Reality: Finding Our Freedom through Storytelling, Kirkhof Center, room 2215/2216

• 11:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m.: Free Campus Lunch, Kirkhof Center, Grand River Room

• 1 p.m.: Silent March to Fieldhouse, assemble at Student Services Building

• 1:30 p.m.: Keynote Presentation by Dr. David Stovall, Fieldhouse (LIB 100/201 approved)

• 2:30-3:30 p.m.: Panel Discussion, #BreaktheSilence, Kirkhof Center, rooms 2215/2216

Wednesday, January 23

• 4:30 p.m.: Keynote Presentation by Shannon Cohen, Kirkhof Center, Pere Marquette Room (LIB 100/201 approved)

• 6 p.m.: Democracy 101 Series: “This is What Democracy Looks Like! #Breaking the Silence and the Living Legacy of MLK,” Mary Idema Pew Library, multipurpose room; sponsored by the Community Service Learning Center.

Thursday, January 24

• 7 p.m.: Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter S. Onuf: Jefferson, Slavery, and the Moral Imagination, Eberhard Center, room 215

Presented by the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies: Thomas Jefferson, the most revered philosopher of the early Republic’s Enlightenment ideals, was deeply involved in the nation’s original sin of slavery. Historians Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter S. Onuf will explore how to find common ground at the troubled crossroads of race and American memory. Visit to RSVP.

Saturday, January 26

• 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.: MLK Jr. Day of Service and Solidarity: Coordinated by the Community Service Learning Center, students will meet at the Cook-DeWitt Center and hear a keynote presentation then participate in service projects with area partners. Register online at