MLK Day Teach-In on campus expected to draw hundreds

contact: Deanne Puca
| WMU News

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Following last year's highly successful MLK Day Teach-In that drew more than 700 students, faculty and community members, Western Michigan University is once again offering this powerful, relevant and engaging event to coincide with other activities honoring slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Campus, Kalamazoo and southwest Michigan community leaders will be presenting, taking questions and leading discussion during the event from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, Jan. 15, in 210 Bernhard Center. In addition, local and campus groups will have information tables available throughout the day. The format will include fast-paced, engaging presentations and focused time for dialogue and discussion.

The event, titled, "Addressing Threats to Justice, the Climate, World Peace and Civil Rights; A Day of Learning and Action," is sponsored by Organize West Michigan, along with the WMU Walker Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnic Relations as co-sponsor. Free parking is available in the Sangren Hall parking lot and Parking Structure 1 on West Michigan Avenue next to Ellsworth Hall.


  • 9 a.m., Welcome message given by Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell.
  • 9:05 a.m., Shared Prosperity Kalamazoo, a community collaborative initiated by the Kalamazoo City Commission to promote increased access to well-paying jobs, strong and economically secure families and healthy growth, development and learning for children; Dr. Don Cooney, Kalamazoo City commissioner, WMU associate professor of social work and associate director of the WMU Walker Institute; and Walker Institute Director Dr. Tim Ready.
  • 9:30 a.m., "Defending the Democratic Process," topics include economic inequality, gerrymandering and voter suppression, Katie Fahey, president, Voters Not Politicians, and Alison Parsons, League of Women Voters.
  • 10 a.m., "Environmental Justice: Issues of Race and Class," Dr. David Benac, WMU professor of history.
  • 10:30 a.m., "Healthcare for All," Dr. Eli Ruben and John Cavacece, Physicians for National Health Program.
  • 11 a.m., "Real Drug Policy Reform," Allison Park, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, and Nick Zettell, Michigan Legalize.
  • 11:30 a.m., "Immigration, DACA and Human Rights," Nelly Fuentes, Ivan Martinez and Elvira Ulbaldo Ace Ruiz, all from the Movimiento Cosecha; and Adrian Vasquez, Hispanic American Council.
  • Noon, "Diplomacy and World Peace," Dr. Ron Kramer, WMU professor of sociology, and Shadia Kanaan, Kalamazoo Non-Violent Opponents of War.
  • 12:30 p.m., "Nativism, White Power, and Civil Rights," Dr. Tim Ready, director of the WMU Walker Institute, and Wendy Fields, first vice president of the Kalamazoo NAACP.
  • 1 p.m., "Responding to Gun Violence," David Boysen, Kalamazoo Public Safety; Michael Rice, Kalamazoo Public Schools Superintendent; and Rick Omilian, Moms Demand Action.
  • 1:30 p.m., "Women Rising Up: From Abuse to Empowerment," Cathy Brown, YWCA Domestic Violence Shelter; Dr. Susan Freeman, chair of WMU gender and women studies; and Tessa Gawrylowicz, Planned Parenthood.
  • 2 p.m., Climate Change Crisis," Dr. Paul Clements, WMU professor of political science, and Dr. Allen Webb, WMU professor of English.
  • 2:30 p.m., "King, Non-Violence and the Present Struggle," Dr. Don Cooney, Kalamazoo City commissioner, WMU associate professor of social work and associate director of the WMU Walker Institute, and Pastor Lenzy Bell, First United Methodist Church.

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The Teach-In is one of several events planned in January on campus and across the broader Kalamazoo community honoring slain civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. For more information on MLK events, visit

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