Kent State to Hold 15th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration on Jan. 26

David Anderson, founder and president of the BridgeLeader Network, to serve as keynote speaker

Kent State University will hold its 15th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration on Jan. 26 at 4 p.m. in the Kent Student Center Ballroom. This year’s theme is “Testament of Hope: Past, Present and Future of Diversity.” The keynote speaker for the event is David Anderson, D.Phil. He is founder and president of the BridgeLeader Network (BLN), one of the world’s leading authorities on building bridges across the deep divides of race, faith, culture and wealth.David Anderson, founder and president of the BridgeLeader Network, will serve as the keynote speaker at Kent State University’s 15th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration. The event will take place Jan. 26 at 4 p.m. in the Kent Student Center Ballroom.

Anderson’s work has brought hope and healing to communities, families and people in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America.

Anderson’s insight, vision and passion have made him a widely sought speaker, writer and consultant for major national and international events and policy initiatives. He has appeared on ABC, FOX, BET, TBN and C-SPAN. He recently led a discussion on race, religion and relationships at the World Summit on Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the United Nations headquarters in New York, New York.

Following his keynote presentation, a brief Q&A will take place, and a reception will follow in the Kent Student Center Ballroom Balcony.

Anderson’s keynote address is free to attend, but a ticket is required. Visit to download a free ticket.

“David Anderson is known for bringing messages of hope that unify people across differences of color, class and culture,” says Alfreda Brown, Ed.D., Kent State’s vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion. “The title of his message is ‘Gracism – the Art of Inclusion.’ He states, ‘Gracism is the positive solution to racism, and it begins with authentic conversation; indeed, comprehension begins with conversation.’  Dr. Anderson offers a blueprint for bridge-building across race, gender and culture and will take us along a path of understanding how to extend messages of grace and hope.”

The commemorative event also will recognize the 2017 recipients of Kent State’s Diversity Trailblazer Award, which honors diversity pioneers associated with Kent State, and Unity Award for Diversity, which recognizes the contributions of any Kent State unit that demonstrates significant contributions in the areas of diversity, equity and/or inclusion.

The annual Day of Service event on Monday, Jan. 16, from 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m. will kick off Kent State’s series of celebratory events that are free and open to the public. Kent State’s Day of Service, which is sponsored by the Office of Experiential Education and Civic Engagement, University College and Hillel at Kent State, offers Kent State community members the opportunity to engage in community service to area nonprofit organizations. Following a tremendous outpouring of interest from the university community, the volunteer slots are filled, but those interested in learning more about other volunteer opportunities may visit the Office of Experiential Education and Civic Engagement’s website.

Also on Jan. 16, children of Kent State faculty and staff ages 5-12 are invited to participate in “Let’s Move – A Day of Activities at the Student Recreation and Wellness Center” as part of this year’s Martin Luther King Day of Service event. A nutritional snack will be provided, and a children’s yoga class and an open gym will be offered among other activities. This is an opportunity for participants to learn the facts about being healthy and staying active. Spaces may yet remain for this activity. Register for the event.

On Wednesday, Jan. 25, from 5-7 p.m., University College will sponsor the Game of Life Simulation in the Kent Student Center Ballroom, where participants will have the opportunity to understand privilege and bias through "lived" simulation. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to participate. Volunteers are welcome. Please contact Cason Brunt for more information at or 330-672-8687.

The celebration continues on Tuesday, Jan. 31, from 6-8 p.m. in the Tri-Towers lobby, when the university community is invited to the next KENTtalks discussion, titled “Let’s Talk Trump: Understanding Both Sides of the Vote.” Sponsored by the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the Division of Student Affairs, the discussion will be moderated by Richard Serpe, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Sociology.

During the monthlong celebration, the Kent State University Bookstore will have a display of books on Martin Luther King Jr.

Learn more about Kent State’s Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration or call 330-672-2442. Use #KentStateMLK on social media to join the conversation about Kent State’s celebration.

POSTED: Thursday, January 12, 2017 01:12 PM
Updated: Monday, February 06, 2023 11:01 AM