Hauenstein Center puts on Common Ground event to honor MLK Jr.’s legacy

Journalists from The New York Times Magazine, The Wall Street Journal to discuss civil rights accomplishments, challenges

By Dylan Grosser | 1/8/17 9:41pm

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GVL / Courtesy - Finn Hawley-Blue Nikole Hannah-Jones of the The New York Times Magazine

by Finn Hawley-Blue / Grand Valley Lanthorn

Grand Valley State University’s Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies will partner with the Division of Inclusion and Equity to present “Race and the American Dream,” a Common Ground Initiative event, Tuesday, Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. in the L.V. Eberhard Center. The event is scheduled as part of GVSU’s Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Week to honor King’s life and legacy.

The event will be a moderated conversation between two journalists, Nikole Hannah-Jones and Jason Riley. Hannah-Jones is an award-winning staff writer for The New York Times Magazine, and Riley is a columnist and editorial board member for The Wall Street Journal. Together, they will discuss civil rights advancements since the mid-twentieth century, in addition to challenges still facing the continued quest for equality. 

Manhattan Institute | Grand Valley Lanthorn

GVL / Courtesy - Manhattan Institute Jason Riley of The Wall Street Journal

Scott St. Louis, program manager for the Hauenstein Center's Common Ground Initiative, said the goal of the initiative is to bring scholars from across the political spectrum to GVSU to discuss life in the U.S. and to reveal the commitment shared by progressives and conservatives to make life better. 

“We decided to host this event because we believe that on an issue of such seriousness, such importance, progressives and conservatives need to recognize the common ground that we all can share, the value of learning and teaching together,” he said. 

St. Louis said one of the goals of the Hauenstein Center is to create a place where leading minds can “re-examine their political and intellectual traditions” to fit in with the purpose of the Common Ground Initiative.

“We're interested in cultivating a public forum that isn't just another ideological echo chamber,” he said.

St. Louis said the event was concocted by many different people within the Division of Inclusion and Equity and the Hauenstein Center. The latter, he said, wanted to collaborate with the Division of Inclusion and Equity for this event given the relevance of race as a topic of discussion in 2016.

“We thought the time would be right to bring two people together who write about a similar issue and who disagree in some areas but probably do have some areas of mutual understanding and common cause,” St. Louis said.

Gleaves Whitney, director of the Hauenstein Center, said he hopes there will be a robust airing of issues about the progress African-Americans have made in American society. He said the importance of this event comes from students learning about the impact King made on American society.

“It's important for students to hear about a significant historical figure and his contribution to American freedom and justice,” Whitney said.

“Race and the American Dream” is free and open to the public. Interested individuals can RSVP at www.hauensteincenter.org/RSVP.

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