Events for 2017

Activities at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo College and across the broader Kalamazoo community are planned to honor civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., including a convocation, march, day of service, educational programs and presentations.

"The Transformative Power of a Unified Dream" is the theme of this year's celebration which includes events throughout 2017. Most events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.

Flyer Poster

Wednesday, Jan. 11

WMU and Kalamazoo Public Schools Social Justice Book Bowl

The elimination competition for middle and high school students from surrounding area school districts is held. The Book Bowl is a reading competition designed to encourage the love of reading and to promote literacy in Kalamazoo Public School students. The program exposes young people to different genres of young adult literature focused on social justice in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Each student is responsible for reading two books (one fiction and one non-fiction selection). Students read the assigned books and prepare with their coaches and teammates for the competition. The Book Bowl begins each October and culminates in January.

  • 5 p.m.
  • Linden Grove Middle School


Thursday, Jan. 12

"The Courage to Create" poetry competition and awards reception on the transformative power of a unified dream

Semifinalists of the annual "Courage to Create" Poetry Competition for grades 7 to 12 is an exciting writing and research competition designed to encourage the love of poetry, student research in the role of writers as agents for social change, and to promote literacy in middle and high school students. The two primary categories of competition are “Free/Open Verse (Original Creation)” and Recitation (Performance of another poets work on the theme of "The Transformative Power of a Unified Dream."

  • 5 to 7 p.m.
  • WMU Multicultural Center in the Adrian Trimpe Building.

friday, Jan. 13

Community Reflection

The speakers include Kalamazoo College students, faculty, staff and administrators.

  • 11 a.m.
  • Stetson Chapel at Kalamazoo College

Open to middle an

Saturday, Jan. 14

Public School Students' Visitation

High school and middle school students and families have the opportunity to attend a variety of fun and educational workshops. Competitions include a WMU and Kalamazoo Public Schools Social Justice Book Bowl; WMU and Kalamazoo Public Schools Social Justice Art Competition; and a Courage to Create Poetry Competition, open to all middle and high school students. The event is open to families from Kalamazoo Public Schools and the surrounding school districts.

  • 9 to 9:30 a.m. registration
  • East Ballroom, Bernhard Center

sunday, Jan. 15

Northside Ministerial Alliance 31st Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration

The keynote speaker is Bishop John Franklin White, presiding prelate of the Fourth Episcopal District, African Methodist Episcopal Church and president of the AMEC Council of Bishops.

  • 4 p.m.
  • Mt. Zion Baptist Church, 120 Roberson St., Kalamazoo

monday, Jan. 16

City of Kalamazoo Communitywide Day of Services

Volunteer opportunities available.

  • 8 a.m.
  • Meet at City Hall, 241 W. South St.


  • 10:50 a.m.
  • Stetson Chapel, Kalamazoo College

Pre-MLK Walk Lunch Discussion

Kanley Chapel is opening its doors to students and participants of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Walk that begins at 3:30 p.m. at the WMU flagpoles. At 1 p.m. in Kanley Chapel's Dialogue Center, posters will be available for decorating for the commemorative walk, as well as food and hot chocolate, while we engage in deep and meaningful discussion surrounding the differences and similarities between the Civil Rights era and today. Please call (269) 387-2506 or email with questions.

  • 1 p.m.
  • Kanley Chapel's Dialogue Center

Commemorative Walk

To honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. the Kalamazoo Community is invited to participate in a commemorative walk. Participants will gather at the flagpoles in front of Kanley Chapel at WMU, then walk to Kalamazoo College's Red Square to join with additional participants. From there, the group will proceed to MLK Park to hear a short keynote address, brief remarks by college students, and a song led by community leaders.

  • 3:30 p.m. at the flagpoles at Kanley Chapel, WMU; to Kalamazoo College Red Square, corner of Thompson and Academy streets, at 4 p.m.; to MLK Park, corner of Rose Street and West Michigan Avenue, at 4:30 p.m.

Community Celebration

Bronson Healthcare and Borgess Ascension invite the community to a party immediately following the "Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Walk" at the Radisson Plaza Hotel. Come in out of the cold and enjoy hot chocolate and cookies while viewing the transforming highlights of the week and listen to local entertainment. Contact Beth Washington at (269) 341-8672 or Sister Sue McCrery at (269) 226-5937 for more information.

  • 5 to 6 p.m., approximately 
  • The Radisson Plaza Hotel at Kalamazoo Center

tuesday, Jan. 17

The Dream Luncheon

Kalamazoo Valley Community College hosts speaker John Davis. He will recite a speech rendition of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. KVCC students will read their work on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

  • 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Lyceum in the Student Commons at Kalamazoo Valley Community College

wednesdays: Jan. 18 to April 12

Lyceum Lecture Series Spring 2017

Weekly seminars sponsored by the Lee Honors College on a variety of topics, given by WMU faculty and experts from the wider community on the theme “Fulfilling America’s Promise: Racial Equality and Justice. Free and open. Lunch is not provided, but the audience is welcome to bring brown bag lunches to the seminars.

  • Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017 Mia Henry, executive director of the Arcus Center, on taking inspiration from women’s key role in the Civil Rights Movement.
  • Keynote Wednesday, March 29 at 7 p.m. in Chenery Auditorium, 714 S. Westnedge Ave., Kalamazoo: Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, on her work turning grief into advocacy for empowering youth.

saturday, march 18

Emerging HOPE Family Strengthening Program

The forum features a keynote address, "When My Father Left and a Stranger Returned Home: Understanding Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from a Military Daughter's Perspective" by Mona Lisa Watson, owner and senior consultant at Anom Diversity Consultants LLC. 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. 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. To register, visit or For more information, contact Curtis or Pamela Robinson Sr. at (269) 205-3356.

  • 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • VanDuesen Room, Kalamazoo Public Library downtown branch.