'The Fierce Urgency of Now' inspires MLK Day speaker, teach-in on Western’s campus

Contact: Deanne Puca

Jemele Hill

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Acclaimed author and activist Jemele Hill will speak on the campus of Western Michigan University during its MLK Celebration on Monday, Jan. 16, in honor of slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Hill’s talk at 6 p.m. in Miller Auditorium will follow a campus teach-in event with four sessions from noon to 3 p.m. in the Bernhard Center. Attend or watch the sessions live online. View information about events

Both events are free and open to the public, although tickets for the talk are required and available through the box office for pick up.

An Emmy Award-winning journalist, Hill is the co-founder of Lodge Freeway Media and a contributing writer for “The Atlantic.” She was chosen as the speaker for WMU’s MLK Celebration because as a journalist, she has the ability to address issues of racial inequity in a direct and authentic manner, says Dr. Candy McCorkle, vice president for diversity and inclusion.

“Ms. Hill does not shy away from sharing facts and her perspective regardless of how uncomfortable someone might be.  It is our hope that she will be able to bridge the generational gaps by appealing to our students, faculty, staff and community because her voice is relevant regardless of age,” McCorkle says.

“The theme was chosen because there is an urgency for us to act now to right the wrongs of our past and present in order to move forward and be productive,” McCorkle adds. “’The Fierce Urgency of Now’ is Dr. King’s quote to impress upon us that we have no luxury to be complacent or apathetic. This quote holds each of us responsible for change.”

Hill’s visit is sponsored by the Lewis Walker Institute, WMU Athletics and Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Find more information

In addition to her public talk, Hill will meet with a handful of student-athlete leaders from all Bronco sports, says Julian Jones, senior associate athletic director.

“Her presence today online and being an outspoken change agent is incredible. Our student-athletes are excited to learn how to be vocal leaders and better take a stand for what is right,” Jones says.

About Jemele Hill

Hill’s more than 20 years in journalism has included stops at the biggest sports media network and several reputable newspapers, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Detroit Free Press. Her profile gradually rose as she began to make appearances on television, including for ESPN.

In April 2019, Hill debuted the podcast “Jemele Hill is Unbothered” on Spotify. The two-time Webby Award-winning podcast features in-depth, thought-provoking conversation with newsmakers across entertainment, culture, music and politics. She also explores topical and controversial issues with humorous, candid commentary.

In August 2018, the National Association of Black Journalists awarded Hill with the Journalist of the Year Award. And in July 2016, Hill participated in the Emmy Award-winning “The President and the People: A National Conversation,” a one-hour town hall with President Barack Obama on race relations, justice, policing and equality.

A native of Detroit, she graduated from Michigan State University in 1997 with a degree in journalism.

 For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.