Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Week

Theme: The Legacy of MLK: Purpose, Truth and Justice / January 18-26, 2021

2021 Speaker: Yamiche Alcindor

GVSU welcomed Yamiche Alcindor as the keynote speaker for the 35th Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration program. 

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the program was held virtually; about 1,400 people attended. Grand Valley was the host of the annual commemoration program for the West Michigan community. Three higher educational partners — GVSU, Davenport University and Grand Rapids Community College — teamed resources to bring a national speaker to West Michigan.

Alcindor is the White House correspondent for PBS NewsHour and an NBC and MSNBC political contributor.

During the program, Alcindor said King and other civil rights leaders have spoken about discrimination and racism for decades, while providing messages about how to move forward. The time to move forward, Alcindor said, is now.

"King warned us about white supremacists, and that's what we're dealing with now," said Alcindor. "These are not microagressions in a boardroom. We are dealing with life and death situations. We need to recognize what kind of country we want to be; do we want a country that is just?"

Read more about Alcindor's presentation.


Headshot: Yamiche Alcindor

Yamiche Alcindor was the 2021 keynote speaker for the 35th annual West Michigan community program.

Chief Isaiah McKinnon: Policing from the Inside

Grand Valley's Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies teamed with partners Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum and Library, and GVSU's Division of Inclusion and Equity to host Isaiah McKinnon for a virtual event January 21, during GVSU's Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Week.

McKinnon, former chief of police and deputy mayor of Detroit, has exemplifies a life dedicated to creating the change you want to see in the world. As a young police officer, he experienced racism firsthand, and as a public servant he rose to positions of authority in which he could do something about it.  

In the wake of the police killing of George Floyd last May, outcry and demonstrations sprang up in cities throughout the United States. Debates ensued not just over the techniques police use to subdue suspects, but also the role of police in our communities. During the debates, one man’s story of creating lasting change rose to national prominence.

View McKinnon's presentation at

Isaiah McKinnon, former chief of police and deputy mayor of Detroit

Isaiah McKinnon, former chief of police and deputy mayor of Detroit