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‘Martin and Music,’ Granderson, Food, Film, More Highlight Black History Month at Ferris

LZ GrandersonFerris State University will mark Black History Month with a series of events that celebrate the role of black Americans in United States history.

The celebration, coordinated by the university’s Office of Multicultural Students Services, will feature “Martin and Music,” a stage production that honors the legacy of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. The production, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26 in Williams Auditorium, weaves King’s speeches with narration and music.

Black History Month events also include various discussions, a documentary screening, soul food sampling and a trip to Grand Rapids to hear guest speaker LZ Granderson, an award-winning journalist and commentator for CNN and ESPN.

“Black history is part of American history,” said OMSS assistant director Michael Wade. “To be multicultural means to appreciate, value and respect attributes of others and their personal culture, which may differ from one’s own. Understanding and acknowledgement play a part in developing respect for others, and for that reason alone, it is important to celebrate the contributions.”

The month-long celebration begins Thursday, Feb. 7 with “Prison Warfare,” a Critical Knowledge Discussion, at 8 p.m. in College of Business Room 211. The event will include video clips, a guest professor and discussion about the lives of black male inmates.

On Friday, Feb. 8 at 2 p.m., OMSS will host “A Taste of Soul Food” in FLITE Room 159 featuring samples of soul food, music and art.

The 2013 Image Awards will be presented at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9 in Williams Auditorium. Outstanding students, faculty, staff and organizations will be honored by the Black Leaders Aspiring for Critical Knowledge registered student organization for their contributions to campus. The event also will include live performances. 

The Ferris and Big Rapids communities are invited to attend the Wednesday, Feb. 13 speaking appearance by Granderson at Grand Rapids Community College. A bus will depart at 5 p.m. from the Rankin Student Center circle.

Granderson, whose “Dare You to Move” presentation is part of GRCC’s Diversity Lecture Series, is a prominent voice in media as well as a prominent black voice.

“This presentation is a great opportunity for students to hear his success story,” Wade said of Granderson, a former gang member from Detroit who became a Columbia University Hechinger Institute Fellow.

Admission is free, but seating on the bus is limited. Those interested in attending should sign up in FLITE Room 159 or call (231) 591-2617.

A screening and discussion of the CNN documentary “Black in America” is planned at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19 in Interdisciplinary Resource Center Room 120. The event is part of OMSS’s “Diversity @ Lunch” series.

The month’s events wrap up with “Martin and Music,” which stars Gerald Rivers, an inspirational speaker, actor and voice-over talent whose most recent credits include M. Bison in the 2012 animated film “Wreck-It Ralph.” However, Rivers is best known for his portrayal of King and has memorized more than 20 of his speeches. Singer, inspirational speaker, author and actor Charles Holt, who has appeared on Broadway in “The Lion King,” “Smokey Joe’s Café” and “Jesus Christ Superstar,” provides narration and vocals.