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MLK Regional Celebration

Event Testimonials


Attorney Julie Gafkay: SVSU’s Great Lakes Bay Regional Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration effectively brought awareness on important issues surrounding race.  The event underscored how SVSU is working to be part of the solution for equal opportunities through its university programs, scholarships, and by bringing in Van Jones as a speaker, a public figure, who challenged listeners to harness opportunities through protests demanding equal rights to open doors to a variety of opportunities in influential fields such as science, engineering, economics, and business.”

Judge Marylin E. Atkins: SVSU did an exceptional job on the 2021 MLK Regional Celebration on Tuesday, January 19, 2021. Starting with the Moderator, Darnell White, who did an exceptional job in leading the discussion of the issues with guest speaker, Mr. Van Jones.  Mr. Jones was dynamic in his presentation of the historical background of Dr. King, his legacy and where do we go from here. Excellent speaker choice! I thoroughly enjoyed the entire program! The scholarship recipients that were featured will go on to do great things and continue the wonderful legacy of service that SVSU has long been known for. Congratulations again and I look forward to next year’s program.”

Community Members

William C. Calhoun, Sr., B.A., M.Div., D.Min., D.D., Trinity Baptist Church, Baltimore, Maryland: I was elated to have attended the virtual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration on January 18, 2021, at Saginaw Valley State University. The evenings’ venue was well executed, branded and presented by your leadership and staff. Selection of the speaker Mr. Van Jones was excellent. He brought voice, history, validation, and information not only to your immediate community, but to the national community as well. It is gratifying to hear people in the know. I appreciated fresh perspectives when it dealt with matters on race, community organization, green energy, and diversity. More specifically, Jones’ call to get beyond those things that divide our community and nation through non-violent direct action by the principles coming out of Dr. King’s era was refreshing. Your guest was phenomenal. Kudos to SVSU’s Chief Diversity Officer, Dr. Mamie Thornes and all who made this possible. I look forward to next year’s program. Feel free to share this brief missive with the university.

Gwen McMillion: “Last night was nothing less than phenomenal! Great program, great interviewer, and great keynote speaker. I was so proud to be an apart of the SVSU family.”

Jack and Jill of America, Inc., Great Lakes Bay Region Chapter: “The families of the Jack and Jill of America, Inc., Great Lakes Bay Region Chapter watched the Great Lakes Bay Regional Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration as a part of its MLK Day of Service event.”

Semaj Torain, Jack and Jill of America, Inc., Great Lakes Bay Region Chapter Teen: “The SVSU MLK Day Celebration Zoom event allowed the Chapter families to hear an encouraging message together.”

Germaine Foley: “The Van Jones event was very insightful. I liked his description of the Dream Corps and how it helps to create a future with freedom and dignity for all.”

Rhonda Butler: “I would like to commend Dr. Thorns, President Bachand and the committee for the exceptional Martin Luther King Regional Celebration that was hosted for our Great Lakes Bay Region. Van Jones' words and thought-provoking conversation was exactly what we needed during this time. What an inspiration it was to be a part of the dialogue between he and Mr. White. No tables were left unturned, and no matter the age or the background, everyone left with the thought that there must be a 'call to action.' I did!”

Lanaysha Sims of Ivylette Youth Group: “I think the MLK event was very insightful for younger students, like myself. I think it is important that we all stay civilly informed, especially about MLK and the effects that he had on society, and I think SVSU did an amazing job with the program given the circumstances surrounding COVID.”

Aniya Gray of Ivylette Youth Group: "What I enjoyed about the MLK tribute was how informational and positive it was. Van Jones is a very powerful speaker and I view him as an inspiration to our younger generation. His message gave me a different perspective on how to better reconstruct America. I also admire him because he has inspired me to remain a great leader so that one day, just like Martin Luther King, I will help turn lives around and make a difference in our world. Thank you so much for that event and hopefully there can be more events in the future for our other African American leaders in the world."

Steve Kin: “I thoroughly enjoyed the MLK program, especially the talk/interview by Van Jones.  I only wish it had lasted longer.  Van’s presentation was very informative and inspirational. The interviewer followed up with interesting and probing questions. Van had thoughtful, specific and informed answers. Lots to contemplate and act on.”

Eileen Grew: “What a wonderful evening with all the well-deserved awards and the exceptional conversation with Van Jones. The quality of the interviewer and the speaker (Van Jones) were as good as it can get. Thank you.”

Susan Weitz: “I appreciated the opportunity to hear/see Van Jones' talk and the Q & A via ZOOM. Donnell White, chief diversity officer at TCF bank, was the perfect person to lead the Q & A. He was thoughtful and excellent. With clarity, Mr. Jones covered a variety of important topics on a Martin Luther King Day. What struck me most was his citing incarceration statistics in the US. Two million people are in jail or prisons; another 4 million in probation or parole. The latter two categories are often used as a fast track to send folks back into incarceration. The clear challenge to his audience: help change this!”

Faculty & Staff

Sidney R. Childs, associate provost for Student Affairs/dean of students: "Mr. Jones offered great insight on the current state of events taking place in our country. I was particularly impressed with the advice to students on how to become and stay engaged to address issues to effectively see positive change in their communities, this country and the world."


Arianna Jones: “The conversation with Mr. Van Jones was very insightful, and it was great to see the hope that he has for young people and our generation.”

Jakayla Cleveland: “I loved the Program! It was great to attend and watch the video the students put together!”


Sponsorship Information

(989) 964-4068

Office of Diversity Services
(989) 964-4068

The Conference Center

(989) 964-4348