2018 Keynote Speakers

April Reign

Monday, January 15, 2018

April Reign, creator of the viral hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, is an attorney and writer who lives in Washington, D.C. In 2015, she sent a tweet critical of the 88th Academy Awards ceremony and lack of people of color nominated in major acting and directing categories. Her #OscarsSoWhite tweet went viral and was a catalyst for a social media movement and caused the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to change its membership policies and voting rules.

Reign now has a social media following of more than 100,000, and is listed among the top 15 accounts on #BlackTwitter by the National Journal. She regularly appears at academic institutions, entertainment networks and studios to speak about diversity and inclusion. As part of a collaborative effort among Grand Valley, Grand Rapids Community College and Davenport University, Reign also will give presentations at GRCC, Fountain Street Church in Grand Rapids and Davenport's campus during her two-day stay in West Michigan.

Visit Reign's website.

Listen to an interview with Reign by WMUK's Earlene McMichael.


April Reign headshot

Bree Newsome

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Bree Newsome is a filmmaker and artist who was in the national spotlight in 2015 when the climbed a flagpole in Columbia, South Carolina — the state's capital — to lower its Confederate flag. Her action came shortly after the mass shooting of nine African American parishioners at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. She was arrested along with another activist and soon #FreeBree was a Twitter trend and $100,000 raised for her $3,000 jail fine.

Her actions stirred the political pot in many communities. The Confederate flag was permanently removed from the statehouse by then-Gov. Nikki Haley and discussion moved across the country considering flags and monuments.

Newsome lives in North Carolina and works as an artist and community organizer. She earned the 2016 NAACP Image Award and was named to the Ebony 100, recognizing her commitment to civil rights.

Visit Newsome's website.

Listen to an interview with Newsome by WMUK.


Bree Newsome headshot

Page last modified January 16, 2018