Events for 2020


Community Reflection, 11 a.m.

Stetson Chapel, Kalamazoo College.
Speakers include Kalamazoo College students, faculty, staff and administrators.


Public School Visitation

Middle school and high school students and families will have the opportunity to attend a variety of fun and educational breakout sessions. Activities will be available for middle school ages and above. Community tables, as well as the MLK Memorabilia Exhibit for high school students, will be available in the Bernhard Center. Middle school students will participate in the Career Cruising program where they will engage in interactive, experiential breakout sessions to broaden their understanding of education and career pathways. High school students will have the opportunity to engage in practical and social justice-related breakout sessions. The event is open to families from Kalamazoo Public Schools and surrounding school districts.  Note: This year, the Social Justice Book Bowl elimination and final competitions will be held at 4:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, at Linden Grove. For accommodations and further information, contact Scott Hennessy at

  • 8:45 a.m. registration, community organization tables, and MLK memorabilia display
  • Bernhard Center ballroom


Northside Ministerial Alliance 34rd Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration,

4 p.m. Mt. Zion Baptist Church, 120 Roberson St., Kalamazoo
Keynote speaker is Rev. Nathan Johnson, senior pastor of Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit.


Kalamazoo Communitywide Day of Service

8 a.m., Kalamazoo City Hall, 241 W. South St.
Sponsored by the City of Kalamazoo in partnership with Gryphon
Place, sign up for a volunteer opportunity at
For more information, contact Jennifer VanOosterhout at or (269) 381-1510, ext. 242.


11 a.m., Dalton Theatre, Kalamazoo College
Keynote speaker is Dr. Barbara Ransby, historian, writer and longtime political activist. For more information, contact Natalia Carvalho-Pinto at (269) 337-7208 or

Teach-In, “Truth Power: Misinformation and the Threat to Inclusive Democracy,”

11 a.m. to 3 p.m. WMU Bernhard Center, Room 210
Event will feature brief presentations on current topics related to equity and justice, combined with opportunities for networking of students, faculty, community members and justice-centered nonprofit organizations. For more information, contact Dr. Allen Webb at (269) 387-2560 or

Laying of the Wreath Ceremony

4:45 p.m. MLK Park, 507 N. Rose St., Kalamazoo

Community Celebration

Doors open at 5 p.m., program from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., State Theatre, 404 S. Burdick Ave., Kalamazoo. Featuring performances by Rootead and Kandace “DC” Lavender.  Artwork from top 15 finalists from the Social Justice Art Competition will be displayed. Sponsored by Bronson Healthcare and Ascension Borgess Hospital. For more information, contact Mikka Dryer, (269) 341-8323.


National Day of Racial Healing

Community Event. 5:30 to 8:00 p.m.

2 p.m. Includes Healing Circles and 6 p.m. Truth Talks and Community Celebration. For more information, visit
Presentation, Dr. Lewis Walker Social Justice Youth Award winners, 7 p.m.
Kalamazoo City Hall, 241 W. South St.
Presentation to award recipients during the scheduled City of Kalamazoo Commission meeting. For accommodations and more information, contact Patricia Vargas at or (269) 337-8047.


Lecture, “A Refugee Girl’s Journey Towards Healing,”

11 a.m. Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Texas Township Campus,
Room 4240
Speaker is Mee Moua.


WMU Theatre Performance, “Blood at the Root,”

York Theatre, Gilmore Theatre Complex
Drama is based on the true story of the “Jena Six;” six black students who were initially charged with attempted murder for a school fight after being provoked with nooses hanging from a tree on campus. This bold new play by Dominique Morisseau examines the miscarriage of justice, racial double standards, the crises in relations between men and women of all classes and, as a result, the shattering state of black family life. Panel discussion following the 7:30 p.m. performance is on Saturday, Feb. 1.

Monday, JAN. 27

WMU and Kalamazoo Public School District Social Justice Art and Social Justice Book Bowl Competitions

Art Competition

Art competition featuring original student artwork that honors Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King's legacy and exemplifies the celebration's annual theme. Art often has a way of unifying people and bringing sensitive issues to light. This competition encourages young people to find creative and artistic ways of bringing the Kalamazoo community together around a common purpose. Fifteen selected art competition pieces will be on display at Linden Grove. Judges will select three winning pieces. The top ten finalists will be part of a traveling exhibit around Kalamazoo.

4:30 p.m.


Linden Grove Middle School
4241 Arboretum Parkway
Kalamazoo, MI 49006

For accommodations and further information, contact Lauren Carney (, 387-2129).


Interactive program, “Beyond the Dream III,” a deeper look at the perspectives of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,

10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. including pre-event networking from 10 to 11 a.m.
Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Texas Township Campus,
Room 4240 KVCC’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion invites the public to a free program to listen, reflect and share their thoughts, feelings and opinions regarding Dr. King’s philosophies and ideas. Participants are invited for food and fellowship during this program. For more information, contact Trice Batson at or Kevin Lavender Jr. at


Social Justice Book Bowl Elimination Competition

Reading competition designed to encourage the love of reading and to promote literacy in Kalamazoo Public Schools. The program exposes young people to different genres of young adult literature focused on social justice in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Each student is responsible for reading two books, including one fiction and one non-fiction selection. Students read the assigned books and prepare with their coaches and teammates for the competition.


4:30 p.m.


Linden Grove Middle School
4241 Arboretum Parkway
Kalamazoo, MI 49006

For accommodations and further information, contact Lauren Carney (, 387-2129).

Both competitions begin around September/October and culminate in January.


Wednesday, Feb. 19

"The Courage to Create" poetry celebration

The Courage to Create Program is a writing and research competition designed to encourage the love of poetry, student research in the role of writers as agents for social change, and to promote literacy in middle and high school students. The program exposes young people to various genres of poetry and will provide a forum for parents and families, local writers, literacy experts, and faculty, staff, and students from local higher education institutions to build a supportive community to foster youth’s creative writing and historical research activities. The Courage to Create Program is open to all middle and high school students.  Poets are welcome to enter poetry on themes of social justice and equality.
Poetry submissions and permission forms for the Courage to Create Program are due Sunday, January 20, 2019. The program is open to all students in grades 7 ‐ 12.
For accommodations and further information, contact
  • 4 p.m.
  • WMU Multicultural Center in the Adrian Trimpe Building.