Division News & Statements

Message from President Mantella on 2022 MLK Holiday

January 13, 2022

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
On Monday, January 17, Grand Valley joins the nation in commemorating the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This marks the first year the day is an official university holiday and will close for students, faculty, and staff.

I encourage everyone to join me in making the day one of reflection and learning. There are many opportunities, all week, hosted by the GVSU MLK Planning Committee and the Division of Inclusion and Equity. Most events will be virtual, including Monday’s keynote speaker, Cheryl Brown Henderson, who has been a lifelong advocate for equity in education.

Henderson is the daughter of the Rev. Oliver Brown, one of the plaintiffs in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education U.S. Supreme Court decision, which attempted to legally end segregation in schools. Henderson said her father knew that “being a citizen of this country is not a spectator sport – he had to fight to desegregate the country.” Nearly 70 years later, we continue the fight for equity in education (#EquityinEducation).

Dr. King was a fierce champion of education and understood its purpose to be more than just provide intellectual capabilities, but to empower individuals through the building of character, discernment, understanding and civic mindedness. Likewise, these are some of the foundations of our own liberal education at Grand Valley.

As we reflect on the lives of Dr. King and Rev. Brown, we must be reminded of our obligation as Lakers to learn, understand, act and lead in the face of injustice and inequality. As I wrote in the commissioning of the Network of Advisors: we must listen carefully; we must all deepen our understanding and knowledge through education; then, we must use this knowledge as the basis for understanding and addressing institutional and systemic racism and oppression to make meaningful change.

I remind each of you of this charge as we approach this important commemoration week and invite you to learn more about our efforts to advance equity in education by registering for Monday’s keynote event at 2 P.M. and other activities at www.gvsu.edu/mlk.


Philomena V. Mantella

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