Area events to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Contact: Deanne Puca
Photo of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Activities at Western Michigan University and across the broader Kalamazoo community begin Wednesday, Dec. 2, and are planned in January to honor slain civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Events include a convocation, march, day of service, educational programs and presentations.

"Equity in Action Uniting Community" is the theme of this year's celebration, which includes events that are free and open to the public.

Events and activities

Wednesday, Dec. 2

  • Piano recital, Awadagin Pratt, winner of the 1992 Naumberg International Piano Competition, 7:30 p.m., WMU Dalton Center Recital Hall. Tickets are $12, $5 for students. More information at

Wednesday, Jan. 13

  • WMU/Kalamazoo Public Schools Social Justice Book Bowl, elimination competition for middle and high school students from surrounding area, 5:15 p.m., Linden Grove Middle School.

Thursday, Jan. 14

  • Readings and discussion led by poet and author Buddy Hannah, "Realizing MLK's Dream of a Beloved Community," noon to 1:30 p.m., Room 4240 of the Student Commons Theater, Kalamazoo Valley Community College.
  • "The Courage to Create" Group Poetry Reading on Equity in Action, 4:30 to 7 p.m., Adrian Trimpe Hall, WMU Multicultural Center. Semifinalists of the annual poetry competition in grades 7 to 12 will perform poetry on the theme "Equity in Action." Keynote speaker is poet and author Buddy Hannah. Sponsors include WMU Center for the Humanities, WMU Office for the Vice President for Research, WMU Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Lee Honors College and WMU Center for the Study of Ethics in Society.

Thursday through Saturday, Jan. 14-16, and Sunday, Jan. 17

  • Face Off Theatre Company's "The Mountain Top," by Katori Hall, Thursday through Saturday, 8 p.m. and Sunday, 2 p.m., Nelda K. Balch Playhouse, Kalamazoo College. The play depicts a gripping re-imagination of the events the night before the assassination of the civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Friday, Jan. 15

  • Community reflection, 11 a.m., Stetson Chapel. Speakers include Kalamazoo College students, faculty, staff and administrators.

Saturday, Jan. 16

  • Public school students' visitation, registration at 9 a.m. at the East Ballroom of the Bernhard Center. Open to middle and high school students and parents and guardians from Kalamazoo Public Schools and surrounding school districts.

Sunday, Jan. 17

  • The 30th annual Northside Ministerial Alliance Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, 4 p.m., at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, 120 Roberson St., Kalamazoo. Rev. Dr. Addis Moore is host pastor. Keynote address will be given by Rev. Dr. E.L. Branch, pastor of Third New Hope Baptist Church in Detroit.

Monday, Jan. 18

  • City of Kalamazoo communitywide day of service. Meet at City Hall, 241 W. South St., at 8a.m. Volunteer opportunities are available at
  • Convocation, 10:50 a.m. at Stetson Chapel, Kalamazoo College. Speaker is Ora Stokes, certified corporate trainer for PNC Bank, WMU alumna and national speaker, poet and voice-over artist.
  • Commemorative walk, gather at 3:30 p.m. at WMU Kanley Chapel, proceed to Kalamazoo College Red Square, then MLK Park in downtown Kalamazoo. Sponsor: City of Kalamazoo. Update: due to cold weather a bus service will be available. Marchers can walk to the Bernhard Center from Kanley Chapel and board buses, which will leave at 4 p.m. and will travel to Kalamazoo College's Red Square to pick up additional participants before making their way downtown to MLK Park. Return bus transportation will be available from both the park and from the Radisson, where the post-march communitywide celebration is planned.
  • A community celebration will take place immediately following Commemorative Walk, approximately 5 to 6 p.m. at the Radisson Plaza Hotel at Kalamazoo Center. This community gathering is to reflect on the communitywide day of service and to celebrate the MLK holiday with local performers. Sponsors include Bronson Healthcare System and Borgess Medical Center. For more information, contact Beth Washington at (269) 341-8672 or Sister Sue McCrery at (269) 226-7061.
  • Borgess Health will offer afternoon Wellness Clinics sessions at several local downtown shelters, providing education about diabetes, heart care and cold weather precautions, as well as blood pressure checks. For more information, contact Lindsay Tuhacek, Borgess Health and Wellness at (269) 226-5220 or, or Sister Sue McCrery, Mission Integration at (269) 226-7061 or

Tuesday, Jan. 19

  • Film viewing and discussion of "Citizen King," 5:30 p.m., in the Epic Theater, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall.
  • Presentation of Dr. Lewis Walker Youth Social Justice Award Winners at 7 p.m. during the Kalamazoo City Commission meeting in City Hall, 241 W.« South St.

Wednesday, Jan. 27

  • Film screening and discussion of "Peace During War: The Ethics of Forgiveness," 4 to 6 p.m. in 3508 Knauss Hall.

Saturday, April 30

  • Ninth annual Mental Health Forum, noon to 4 p.m., VanDuesen Room, Kalamazoo Public Library, downtown branch. Emerging HOPE Family Strengthening Program, "Making Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities a Priority," for individuals and family members of young children, teen and young adults with special needs/disabilities. Speaker: Rev. Joan Cornelison, M.A., director of pastoral services at Hope Network in Grand Rapids. Workshops following keynote (participants choose one):

    "Child Welfare Law in Michigan as it Relates to Parents with Intellectual, Cognitive and/or Developmental Challenges," facilitated by Cheryl L. Owens-Nebedum, LLMSW, HS-BCP.

    "Embracing People with Mental Illness and Developmental Disabilities Within the Church," facilitated by Rev. Barrett Lee, MDiv. 

    "Knowledge is Power: Advocating for Yourself or a Family Member in the Mental Health System," facilitated by Michele McGowen, LMSW.

    Workshop fee: $25. An application has been submitted for State Continuing Education Clock Hours and WMU Continuing Education Units. Credit will be offered for all workshops and keynote address, pending approval. Fee for SCECHs and WMU CEUs of $15 per participant. Register: Contact: Curtis or Pamela Robinson, Emerging HOPE co-directors, at (269) 205-3356 or

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