Activist to highlight spring Lyceum Lecture series at WMU

Contact: Deanne Puca
Photo of Sybrina Fulton.


KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Sybrina Fulton, activist and mother of Trayvon Martin, will visit Kalamazoo in March as part of the spring Lyceum Lecture series at Western Michigan University, which begins Wednesday, Jan. 18.

Events in the lecture series, which are typically held at noon every Wednesday in the Lee Honors College lounge, will kick off with "Taking Inspiration from Women of the Civil Rights Movement," a talk by Mia Henry, executive director, Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership. Additional series presentations will cover a wide range of topics under the overall theme of "Fulfilling America's Promise: Racial Equity and Justice."

The spring 2017 Lyceum series is intended to respond to the groundswell of voices currently advocating for elimination of the reality of racial bias and promotion of a more just society. The series addresses issues including, but not limited to: racial bias in law enforcement on campus and in the community, the reality of racial bias in the criminal justice system and why intentional confrontation regarding racism is necessary and important to society, especially in relation to higher education.

Keynote address

"An Evening with Sybrina Fulton" will take place at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 29, at Chenery Auditorium. Like all talks in the series, her presentation is free and open to the public. Fulton will also conduct a workshop for WMU students March 30 at the Lee Honors College. Interested students should contact Jane Baas, honors college associate dean, at

In addition to being an activist and leader for racial equality and justice, Fulton is the founder of the Trayvon Martin Foundation and the co-author of "Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin," to be released later this year. She is dedicating her life to transforming grief into advocacy for empowering youth. Since the death of her 17-year-old son during a violent confrontation in 2012, Fulton has become an inspiring spokesperson for parents and concerned citizens across the country.

Series speakers

All events take place at noon in the Lee Honors College lounge unless otherwise noted.

  • Jan. 25—"Dismantling Racial Bias in Law Enforcement on Campus and in the Community: A Dialogue," with Chief Jeffrey Hadley, Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety and Chief Scott Merlo, WMU Department of Public Safety.
  • Feb. 1—"First Generation College Students: Fulfilling the Promise of Higher Education: A Panel Discussion," with Adriana Cardoso Reyes, director of the WMU College Assistance Migrant Program in the Division of Multicultural Affairs; Von Washington Jr., executive director of community relations, Kalamazoo Promise; and Walter Malone, director, WMU Alpha Program.
  • Feb. 8—"The Reality of Racial Bias in the Criminal Justice System," with Dr. Carla Adkison-Johnson, professor of counselor education and counseling psychology, and Attorney E. Dorphine Payne, E. Dorphine Payne Law Office, Kalamazoo.
  • Feb. 15—"Activist Tools You Can Use," PechaKucha presentation with WMU student leaders.
  • Feb. 22—"How to Take on Hate: A Dialogue on Islamophobia and Racism," with Asha Noor, advocacy and civil engagement specialist, National Network for Arab American Communities; and Alisa Perkins, assistant professor of comparative religion.
  • March 15—"Using Fashion and Spirituality to Build Cross-Cultural Love," with WMU alumna Zarinah El-Amin Naeem, entrepreneur and founder of Beautifully Wrapped and the Headwrap Expo.
  • March 22—"SHARE Out: You and Why Race Matters, A Discussion and Panel," with Maime Butler and members of the Student Assembly for Racial Equity and Cultural Inclusion and Jacob Pinney-Johnson of the Society for History and Racial Equity—SHARE, discussing why being intentional in confronting the concept of race, racism and privilege is necessary as well as personal testimonies of work around racial equity and why it is important to society, especially in relation to higher education.
  • March 29—"An Evening with Ms. Sybrina Fulton," with Fulton and moderator Earlene McMichael of WMUK, will take place at 7 p.m. in Chenery Auditorium, 714 S. Westnedge Ave., Kalamazoo.
  • April 5—"Black Feminisms, Pop Culture and Revolutionary Healing," with Dr. Jennifer Richardson, assistant professor of gender and women's studies.
  • April 12—"Voices of First Generation Latino Immigrant Fathers: Migration and the Dual Frame of Reference," with Dr. Angel Gullón-Rivera, assistant professor of family and consumer sciences.

Lyceum Lecture series

The speaker series arose from discussions in August at the WMU Lee Honors College about issues of violence and racism that had surfaced in previous months. Baas and Dr. Kristina Wirtz, professor of anthropology and faculty faculty, formed a committee to create the semester-long speaker series.

Additional assistance came from faculty members Dr. Mariam Konaté and Dr. Linwood Cousins, and honors college graduate assistant Mariam Mustafa.

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