Community, campus programs to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Contact: Deanne Puca
Photo of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with both of his fists raised and the words, "What is your position in times of challenge and controversy?"

MLK Day is Monday, Jan. 15.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University continues its tradition of honoring slain civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with events planned in January on campus and across the broader Kalamazoo community.

Free, public events include a convocation, march, day of service, educational programs and presentations. "What is your position in times of challenge and controversy?" is this year's theme, and events include the following.

Activities and events

Wednesday, Jan. 10

  • Social Justice Art Competition and Book Bowl for WMU and surrounding school districts, 5 p.m., Linden Grove Middle School. Art competition features original student artwork that honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy and exemplifies the celebration's annual theme. Fifteen selected art competition pieces will be on display, and judges will select three winning pieces. The MLK Social Justice Book Bowl is a reading competition designed to encourage the love of reading and to promote literacy in students who are responsible for reading two books and prepare with their coaches and teammates.

Thursday, Jan. 11

  • "The Courage to Create" poetry reading and competition awards reception, 4:30 to 6 p.m., WMU Trimpe Building Multicultural Center. Writing and research competition is designed to encourage the love of poetry, student research in the role of writers as agents for social change and to promote literacy. Open to middle and high school students, the program exposes them to various genres of poetry and provides a forum for families, writers, literacy experts, and higher education faculty, staff and students from local higher education institutions to build a supportive community to foster youth's creative writing and research activities.

Friday, Jan. 12

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

Saturday, Jan. 13

  • Public School Students' Visitation, 8:45 a.m. registration and community organization tables, WMU Bernhard Center East Ballroom. High school and middle school students and families have the opportunity to attend a variety of fun and educational workshops. The event is open to families from Kalamazoo Public Schools and surrounding school districts.

Sunday, Jan. 14

  • Northside Ministerial Alliance 32nd Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, 4 p.m., Mt. Zion Baptist Church. Keynote speaker is Pastor Jonathan Tremaine Thomas of Destiny Church in St. Louis, Missouri.

Monday, Jan. 15

  • City of Kalamazoo Communitywide Day of Service, meet at 8 a.m., Kalamazoo City Hall. Volunteer opportunities available at
  • MLK Day Convocation, 10:50 a.m., Kalamazoo College Stetson Chapel. Speaker is Mariame Kaba, organizer, speaker and author whose work focuses on ending violence, dismantling the prison industrial complex, transformative justice and supporting youth leadership development. She is also the founding director of Project NIA, a grassroots organization dedicated to ending youth incarceration, and the co-founder of the Chicago Freedom School. For more information, contact Natalia Carvalho-Pinto at (269) 337-7208 or
  • Pre-MLK Walk Lunch Discussion, 1 p.m., WMU Kanley Chapel Dialogue Center. Participants gather to engage in discussion surrounding the differences and similarities between the civil rights era and today. Posters will be available for decorating as well as food and hot chocolate. For more information, contact (269) 387-2506 or
  • Teach-in, "Addressing Threats to Justice, the Climate, and World Peace: A Day of Learning and Action," 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., WMU Bernhard Center West Ballroom. Sessions combine short inspirational speeches, focused discussion, action plans and connections to student, faculty and community organizations. Speakers include University and community leaders. WMU students, staff, faculty and community members are invited to attend. For more information, contact Dr. Allen Webb at (269) 387-2605 or
  • Commemorative Walk, 3:30 p.m. Due to the weather, bus transportation will replace the Jan. 15 commemorative walk to MLK Park in downtown Kalamazoo. Buses will pick walkers up at the flagpoles near Kanley Chapel for the trip downtown and will be ready near the State Theatre to return students to campus after the community celebration.
  • Community Celebration, immediately following Commemorative Walk, start at approximately 5 to 6 p.m., the State Theatre. Hot chocolate and cookies provided while viewing highlights of the week as well as local entertainment. Sponsored by Bronson Healthcare and Borgess Ascension. For more information, contact Mikka Dryer, (269) 341-8323, or Sister Sue McCrery, (269) 226-5937.

Tuesday, Jan. 16

  • National Day of Racial Healing, visit or contact Lanna Lewis at
  • Presentation to Dr. Lewis Walker Youth Social Justice Award Winners, 7 p.m., Kalamazoo City Hall. Presentation to recipients during the scheduled City of Kalamazoo Commission meeting.

Wednesday, Jan. 17

  • "Reaching the Dream" Luncheon, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., WMU Dining Centers. Celebrate the work and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with WMU Dining Services. Dishes from regions across the United States will be featured, highlighting King's emphasis on unity and persistence in times of controversy. Everyone is welcome for lunch for $9.50; meal plans, Dining Dollars, cash or credit are accepted. Centers participating are Bistro3, Burnham, Hoekje/Bigelow and Valley Dining Center.

Saturday, Jan. 20

  • Student Summit, 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., WMU Sangren Hall. Event engages and develops student leaders as it relates to their student involvement, post-grad success and academic achievement. Similar to a conference, there will breakout sessions on leadership, advocacy and legacy as well as a keynote from WMU Trustee Dr. William Pickard, founder and chairman of the Global Automotive Alliance. Register at

Wednesday, Jan. 24

  • "The Easiest Conversation on Race," 11 a.m., Kalamazoo Valley Community College Student Commons Theatre, with Dar Mayweather, CEO of Good Mayweather Consulting. 

Saturday, March 18

  • Emerging HOPE Family Strengthening Program Mental Health Forum, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Community Advocates. The forum features a keynote address, by Kevin Fischer, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Fischer is the founder of the Dominique Fischer Memorial Foundation, serves on the board of directors for the Guidance Center and several other organizations. He is dedicated to eliminating the stigma of mental illness, which he considers the leading barrier to early diagnoses and treatment. Following the keynote, participants can attend one of three educational workshops. Mental health agency booths will be set up allowing participants to view the agency display booths, talk with mental health providers and gather information. Lunch will be provided as well as event T-shirts will be given to the first 100 registered participants. State Continuing Education Clock Hours and WMU Continuing Education Units will be offered for all workshops and keynote address. There is a fee for both SCECHs and WMU CEUs of $15 per participant. Registration is $25 with limited scholarships available. Visit or to register. For more information, contact Curtis Robinson Sr. or Dr. Pamela Robinson at (269) 205-3356.

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