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MLK in the city: Four ways to celebrate Dr. King’s Legacy


For the 2018 MLK day celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, we present these four events for your consideration.

18th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Breakfast
Steelcase Ballroom at DeVos Place, 303 Monroe NW, Jan. 15, 7:00 a.m.

On Monday morning, you can join area business leaders at the The Urban League of West Michigan’s 18th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Breakfast at DeVos Place. 

The theme of this year’s breakfast, presented by Premiere Title Sponsor Steelcase, is The Time Is Always Right To Do What’s Right. Expect to be seated with more than 1000 attendees who will join our local Urban League in honoring Dr. David Pilgrim and the Jim Crow Museum with the Drum Major for Justice Award, an honor bestowed upon an individual or group whose life’s work embodies the spirit of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

The event also includes a fireside chat with Jacob Maas of West Michigan Works (Employment/Training), Patrick Lonergan of Fifth Third Bank (Housing/Community Development), Dr. Justin Jennings of the Muskegon Public Schools (Education), Tasha Blackmon of Cherry Health (Health) and Dr. David Pilgrim of Ferris State University (Racial Equity/Diversity/Inclusion – REDI). 

Tickets for this fundraiser can be purchased in advance from this website.


Beverly Daniel Tatum in Celebration of MLK Day
Calvin College Covenant Fine Arts Center, 1795 Knollcrest Cir SE, Jan. 15, 12:30 p.m.

On the eve of the 20th anniversary re-release of the book “Why Are All the Black Kids Still Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” comes author Beverly Daniel Tatum who will be a guest speaker at the Calvin College January Series. 

Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum is a psychologist, administrator, and educator who has conducted research and written books on the topic of race, focusing specifically on race in education, racial identity development in teenagers, and assimilation of black families and youth in white neighborhoods. 

From 2002 to 2015 she served as the ninth president of Spelman College, the oldest historically black women’s college in the United States. Tatum’s important book “Why Do All the Black Kids Sit Together in the Cafeteria” and other thoughts on race will be the topic of this special day’s lecture commemorating MLK Day. 


MLK Day Celebration 
Fountain Street Church, 24 Fountain St NE, Jan. 15, 6 p.m.

The 32nd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration is one not to be missed if you are seeking a blending of the spoken word with music as Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids Community College, Davenport University, and Opera Grand Rapids all come together for this special community celebration of Dr. King’s life and long legacy. 

This event is really a double feature-like program with the celebration kicking off at 6 p.m. with keynote speaker and #OscarsSoWhite creator April Reign addressing the attendees at this downtown church. 

April Reign is one of the Top 15 accounts on #BlackTwitter according to The National Journal and is cited as one of social media's most influential voices on race, politics, and pop culture, with more than 70,000 Twitter followers. Learn more at http://www.reignofapril.com/

Immediately after at 7:30 p.m. the audience is then treated to a special performance of "I DREAM" from Opera Grand Rapids.

“I Dream” shares the inspiring story of the famous preacher and iconic civil rights leader from Atlanta in an opera infused with the blue, jazz, and, of course, gospel-tinged rhythms. The opera captures the intimate moments shared with wife, Coretta Scott King, as well as with his close friend Ralph Abernathy. To learn more about this opera, please visit http://www.operagr.org/i-dream/.

And while this is a time of celebration as we honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this year is also the 50th Anniversary of his tragic assassination.

The MLK Day Celebration is a free community event. Seating is on a first-come basis at the door. Doors open at 5:30 PM. Parking is available at the GRCC Bostwick Ramp.


MLK Day 2018: Where Do We Go From Here?
Millbrook Christian Reformed Church, 3661 Poinsettia Ave SE, Jan. 15, 6:30 p.m.

For those seeking a more contemporary approach to the message and legacy of Dr. King, please consider Hillbrook Christian Reformed Church’s MLK Day lecture with special guest Rev. Jim Wallis of Red Letter Christians and Sojourners.  

Organizers of the event share that Wallis will be addressing the topic: In a time of strife, racism, and poverty, what will we choose? Will we choose a way that makes for prosperity and peace for all? Will we loose the chains of injustice?

In addition to the lecture by Rev. Wallis, there will be a special musical reflection by local artists Maurice Townsend, Satrina Reid, Emmanuel Phillips, Kenneth Henderson, and Nate Glasper.
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