Events for 2018

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.

"What is your position in times of challenge and controversy?" is the theme of this year's celebration which includes events throughout 2018. Most events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.

Wednesday, Jan. 10

WMU, Kalamazoo Public and surrounding school districts Social Justice Art Competition and WMU and Kalamazoo Public Schools Social Justice Book Bowl

Art Competition: Art competition featuring original student artwork that honors Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King's legacy and exemplifies the celebration's annual theme. Art often has a way of unifying people and bringing sensitive issues to light. This competition encourages young people to find creative and artistic ways of bringing the Kalamazoo community together around a common purpose. Fifteen selected art competition pieces will be on display. Judges will select three winning pieces.
Book Bowl: Reading competition designed to encourage the love of reading and to promote literacy in Kalamazoo Public Schools. 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, including one fiction and one non-fiction selection Students read the assigned books and prepare with their coaches and teammates for the competition.
Both competitions begin in October and culminate in January.
  • 5 p.m.
  • Linden Grove Middle School


Thursday, Jan. 11

"The Courage to Create" poetry competition

The keynote speaker for this event is Mr. Buddy Hannah, Poet & Author. Finalists for the Courage to Create Competition (Grades 7-12) will read their poetry with local poets. This is a writing and research competition designed to encourage the love of poetry, student research in the role of writers as agents for social change. The program exposes young people to various genres of poetry and will provide a forum for parents, families, local writers, literacy experts, and faculty, staff, and students from Kalamazoo College and WMU to build a supportive community to foster creative writing and historical research activities. For more information, email
  • 4:30 to 6 p.m.
  • WMU Multicultural Center in the Adrian Trimpe Building.

friday, Jan. 12

Community reflection

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

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

Saturday, Jan. 13

Public school students' visitation

Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018 Public School Students' Visitation. 9 a.m. registration, Bernhard Center Ballroom.

Middle school and high school students and families will have the opportunity to attend a variety of fun and educational workshops. Activities will be available for middle school ages and above. Competitions include a WMU and Kalamazoo Public School Social Justice Book Bowl; Social Justice Art Competition open to all middle and high school students; 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 surrounding school districts. 

  • 9 a.m. registration
  • Bernhard Center ballroom

sunday, Jan. 14

Northside Ministerial Alliance 32nd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration

The keynote speaker is Pastor Johnathan Tremaine Thomas, Destiny Church, St. Louis, Missourri.

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

monday, Jan. 15

City of Kalamazoo Communitywide Day of Services

Volunteer opportunities available.

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

Addressing Threats to Justice, the Climate, Civil Rights, and World Peace: A Day of Learning and Action

Sessions combine short inspirational speeches, focused discussion, action plans and connections to student, faculty and community organizations. WMU students, faculty and community members are invited to attend.

Sessions run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Bernhard Center.


  • 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 State Theatre. 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 Mikka Dryer at (269) 341-8323 or Sister Sue McCrery at (269) 226-5937 for more information.

  • 5 to 6 p.m., approximately 
  • The State Theatre

tuesday, Jan. 16

National Day of Racial Healing

Visit or or contact Lanna Lewis at for updates on ways to participate individually as well as local activities hosted by the Kalamazoo Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation.

Presentation to Dr. Lewis Walker Youth Social Justice Award Winners

Presentation to award to recipients during the scheduled City of Kalamazoo Commission meeting.

  • 7 p.m.
  • City Hall

saturday, Jan. 20

Black Student Leadership Summit

This free opportunity will serve to engage and develop student leaders at Western Michigan University as it relates to their student involvement, post-graduate success, and academic achievement. This short summit will feature stimulating sessions that engage participants on the following pillars: leadership, advocacy, and legacy. Similar to a conference, there will be breakout sessions including a keynote from Dr. William Pickard. Registration is required for attendance. Registration link:

  • 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Sangren Hall

wednesday, Jan. 24

The Easiest Conversation on Race

Kalamazoo Valley Community College hosts guest speaker Dar Mayweather.

  • 11 a.m.
  • 4240 Student Commons at Kalamazoo Valley Community College