In 1983, President Ronald Reagan designated the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as an observed federal holiday. Grand Rapids Community College has been at the forefront of commemorating the legacy of Dr. King since 1986. In subsequent years, GRCC partnered with Grand Valley State University and Davenport University to form the Inter-Campus Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration. The two-day event takes place on three campuses and focuses on contemporary Civil Rights issues, reflects on Dr. King’s expansive writings and evolving ideology about justice, and encourages people into action through public service.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Inherit the Dream Scholarship
Through a partnership with Grand Rapids Community College and Grand Valley State University, over sixty scholarships have been awarded during this annual celebration.
- An annual scholarship in the amount of $1,000 will be awarded to a senior student of Black or Latino heritage who attends:
- Kent Intermediate School and is involved in community service or activities in support of diversity and inclusion.
- Students must be accepted to Grand Rapids Community College with a minimum grade point average of 2.0.
- The application must be accompanied by a high school transcript that must include six semesters with a cumulative GPA.
34th Annual Inter-Campus Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration
Monday, January 20, 2020
Fountain Street Church
Keynote Speaker: Mr. Yusef Salaam
Member of Exonerated (Central Park 5)
In 1989, Yusef Salaam was one of the five boys, four black and one Latino, tried and convicted for the brutal rape of a young woman in New York City’s Central Park. They became known as “The Central Park Five.”
In 2002 their convictions were vacated after spending between six to thirteen years of their lives behind bars. In 2012, documentarians Ken and Sarah Burns released the documentary The Central Park Five, which tells this travesty from the perspective of Salaam and his cohorts. In 2019, Netflix released the drama mini-series “When They See Us” directed by Oscar nominee and Emmy Award winner Ava DuVernay. The film introduced the Central Park 5 story about injustice and betrayal of the US criminal justice system to a new generation.
Determined to educate the public, the now exonerated Yusef Salaam, who was fifteen years old when he was wrongly convicted, eagerly shares his story with others.
In speaking out against injustice, he conveys the importance of continuing one’s education—whether formal or otherwise. He also touches on the effects of incarceration and the disenfranchisement of economically disadvantaged people and its devastating impact on both their families and the community at large. Yusef also advocates for drastic policy changes relating to the prison industrial complex. He is a firm proponent of video surveillance in all police interactions with so-called suspects, banning solitary confinement for juveniles and staunchly opposes capital punishment.
His most recent awards have included a Lifetime Achievement Award from President Barack Obama (2016), an honorary Doctorate of Humanities from Anointed by God Ministries Alliance & Seminary (2014), and a long list of Proclamations - most notably from New York State Senate (2018), and New York City Council (2013).