MSNBC’s Joy-Ann Reid to speak on MLK

Hana Barkowitz

A speech by MSNBC national correspondent Joy-Ann Reid will serve as the climax to a week of events honoring the memory of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and celebrating diversity at Kent State.

The speech will take place on Thursday at 4 p.m. in the Student Center Ballroom. People who want to attend will need a ticket, which they can get for free on the website of Kent State’s Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at

A reception and book signing by Reid will follow in the Ballroom Balcony. 

Reid’s book, “Fracture: Barack Obama, the Clintons and the Racial Divide,” is one of the reasons she is the keynote speaker, according to Shana Lee, director of special projects and initiatives for the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and one of the organizers of the event.

The book details how race will affect the 2016 election.

“Joy-Ann’s book is timely and needed in terms of a discussion of where we are now politically and from a racial perspective,” Lee said. “We’ve had a lot of volatile situations happen over the last couple years in relation to race, and she can give our students some things to think about as they are deciding whom they’re going to vote for.”

Reid said many people only know the “greeting card version” of who King was.

“He was a real person and much more radical,” she said.

Having grown up in a household in Denver where her mother “revered” King, she said, the civil rights leader influenced many of the events she wrote about in her book.

“You can’t cover politics and social issues without civil rights,” she said. “There is always a civil rights movement. I don’t see it as something separate. This is how to realize the reason behind why our modern problems still exist.”

The 14th annual celebration has been observed all week, having started on Monday with a Black and Brown Dialogue moderated by Kent State’s 2016 President Ambassador Sharlene Ramos-Chesnes. The dialogue included African American and Latino students discussing their experiences with race and diversity.

On Tuesday, university members talked about diversity and Kent State’s newly defined core values at a KENTtalks roundtable. At a “Game of Life” simulation Wednesday, people took part in a “safe way for people to learn how other individuals are treated… because not all of us are privileged.”

Lee said that Kent State commemorates Martin Luther King so late because the holiday that marks his birthday always comes so close to the start of school.

“More time is needed to promote the celebration,” she said.

Hana Barkowitz is a diversity reporter at The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].