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Nikole Hannah-Jones, John Leguizamo heading GRCC speakers series

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Posted at 12:06 PM, Aug 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-16 12:06:05-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Pulitzer Prize-winner Nikole Hannah-Jones and Emmy Award-winner John Leguizamo are among the speakers highlighting the Grand Rapids Community College’s 2021-22 Diversity Lecture Series and Latino Heritage Month.

The lecture series provides students, employees and community members access to scholars, thought-leaders, activists and artists and is presented by GRCC’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, according to a news release Monday.

“Our overarching goal for the year ahead is cultivating equity through an intersectional framework,” said Dr. B. Afeni McNeely Cobham, GRCC’s chief equity and inclusion officer. “We are adopting intersectionality as an understanding of how race, class, gender, sexuality, religion, disability, physical appearance, height and other individual characteristics ‘intersect’ with one another and overlap.”

This year’s kickoff of the Diversity Lecture Series will highlight a new initiative called Interfaith Literacy.

Keynote speaker Austin Channing Brown will lead a discussion about “standing in the shadow of hope.”

In this context, he uses “shadow” as a metaphor for patience and grace.

Brown is a speaker, writer and media producer who uses an intentional mix of humor, pop culture, storytelling and audience engagement to discuss the possibility of justice in our organizations and communities.

The event is planned for 6 p.m. on Sept. 7.

Leguizamo is a multi-faceted performer, writer and director whose work in film, theatre, TV and literature covers multiple genres.

Leguizamo starred in the hit on-person, Tony Award nominated play, “Latin History for Morons,” which revolves around all that is missing from his son’s middle school understanding of Latino history.

He is the Latino Heritage Month keynote speaker and is scheduled to speak at 6 p.m. on Sept. 15.

Nikole Hannah-Jones is the creator of the 1619 Project, which has generated discussions about broadening what is taught in schools.

Hannah-Jones was at the center of a debate on academic freedom when she was initially denied tenure at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill this year.

Her address is planned for 6 p.m. on Jan. 31, 2022.

LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter, will commemorate Black History Month.

Brown received the 2010 White House Champion of Change Award, the 2006 Spirit of Democracy Award and the Louis Burnham Award for Human Rights.

All events will be virtual and those interested may register here.