Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Week


January 16-21, 2023

2023 Silent March

campus community members march on the Allendale campus reflecting on Dr. King's legacy; giving instructions at the start is Bobby Springer, co-chair of the planning committee

Keynote Speaker: Eddie Glaude Jr.

Americans are so divided and divisive, Eddie Glaude Jr. said on the first day of Grand Valley's Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Commemoration Week, their "elbows rub but their hearts are apart."

Glaude, a distinguished university professor and chair of African American Studies at Princeton University, spoke January 17 in the Kirkhof Center to both in-person and virtual audiences. 

Also a political commentator and author, Glaude drew on his expertise of author and civil rights activist James Baldwin throughout much of his presentation. Glaude said much of what Baldwin wrote and spoke about in the 1960s and ’70s remains true today: "America is changing all the time without really changing at all."

Glaude said some Americans have a distorted view of liberty and hold onto what they perceive as ideals from the country's founders. "The time has come for us to examine ourselves," he said.

Read more about Glaude's presentation on GVNext.



Eddie Glaude gestures from the podium during a presentation

Eddie Glaude Jr. addresses an audience January 17 in the Kirkhof Center. His presentation kicked off 2023 MLK Commemoration Week events on campus. (Amanda Pitts)

Sherry Johnson introduces a speaker

Sherry Johnson, co-chair of the MLK Commemoration Planning Committee, introduces Glaude. (Amanda Pitts)

Glaude talks from a podium

(Amanda Pitts)

crowd walking over Little Mac Bridge on the Allendale Campus, a silent march as part of MLK Commemoration Week

Jerry Wallace, left, leads a silent march January 18 over the Little Mac Bridge on the Allendale Campus. Wallace graduated from GVSU in 2009. (Kendra Stanley-Mills)

Keynote Speaker: Jerry Wallace, ’09

Jerry Wallace wore a suit to class when he was a doctoral student. After graduating from Grand Valley in 2009, he went on to earn two master's degrees and a doctoral degree.

He is now the president of Danville Community College in Virginia. At 38, he is among the youngest college presidents in the U.S. and the youngest president in the history of the Virginia Community College System.

During a January 18 keynote presentation as part of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Week events on campus, Wallace said he often went "over and beyond' because he knew he would usually be the only person of color in whatever room he was in.

"I wore a suit during my doctoral studies, I wore a suit when I was middle management," Wallace said. "I felt I had to legitimize myself before I got into the room."

Read more of Wallace's presentation on GVNext.

Keri Becker shakes hands with Jerry Wallace

Keri Becker, athletic director, shakes hands with Jerry Wallace after introducing him. (Kendra Stanley-Mills)

Jerry Wallace stands with a microphone in front of a crowd of people in chairs

Jerry Wallace, '09, speaks to a audience January 18 in the Kirkhof Center, as part of MLK Commemoration Week events. (Kendra Stanley-Mills)

Mary Frances Berry gestures during a presentation from the podium

Mary Frances Berry gives a presentation January 19 at the DeVos Center, sponsored by the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies and the Division of Inclusion and Equity. (Emily Zoladz)

Keynote Speaker: Mary Frances Berry

For years, when Mary Frances Berry or Coretta Scott King were confronted with a quandary and unsure how to proceed, the two friends would ask a simple question. The pair looked to Scott King’s late husband, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., for inspiration. 

“We’d always ask each other, ‘What would Martin do?’” Berry said. “We would not always do what Martin did, but we would always ask the Martin question. She always liked holding up his banner very high.” 

The Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies, in partnership with the Division of Inclusion and Equity, welcomed Berry on January 19 to the Pew Grand Rapids Campus as part of Grand Valley’s Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Week.

Berry, the Geraldine R. Segal professor of American Social Thought and history at the University of Pennsylvania and former chair of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, shared her experiences from decades at the forefront of the civil rights movement. 

Read more about Berry's presentation on GVNext.

Mary Frances Berry signs a book for a participant

Mary Frances Berry signs a book for a participant. (Emily Zoladz)

Mary Frances Berry chats with a participant

(Emily Zoladz)

Page last modified February 10, 2023