Photo of activist Tamika D. Mallory
Inset: Tamika D. Mallory, who will deliver Bryant University's 3rd Annual MLK Legacy Speaker Keynote and receive The Rev. Dr. MLK, Jr. Legacy Award.
Tamika D. Mallory to present MLK Legacy keynote in honor of Black History Month at Bryant
Jan 28, 2022, by Denise Kelley
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Social justice leader and movement strategist Tamika D. Mallory, will deliver Bryant University's annual MLK Legacy Keynote on February 15 at 7 pm. This will be the 3rd annual MLK Legacy Keynote event, held in honor of the late civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr. Previous MLK Legacy Keynote addresses include presentations by the civil rights leader’s daughter, Bernice King, and Michael Eric Dyson.

Mallory is a groundbreaking, award-winning social justice leader and movement strategist. She has risen to become the most sought after, influential activist of her generation. Her committed work, advocacy, frontline bravery and heroic servitude continues to fuel a solitary act into a global movement inspiring millions around the world to get involved in the fight for racial and social equality. 

Mallory served as the youngest ever Executive Director of the National Action Network and was instrumental in the creation of the New York City’s Crisis Management System, an official gun violence prevention program that awards nearly $27 million to violence prevention organizations annually. Mallory made history when she helped shepherd the largest single day demonstration, the 2017 Women’s March on Washington, serving as one of its four national co-chairs. Most recently, she co-founded Until Freedom, an intersectional social justice organization.

“We are honored for Tamika Mallory to lead us in a discussion of the new civil rights movement and activism in honor of the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., and in celebration of Black History Month at Bryant.”

At the event, Mallory will also receive The Rev. Dr. MLK, Jr. Legacy Award, which recognizes and affirms people from the greater community and beyond who exemplify Dr. King's spirit, life, teachings and commitment to service. Presented annually at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Event, the award recognizes those who have significant and tangible contributions in the areas of race relations, justice and human rights through their work and is sponsored by MSU, SPB, ICC and CSLI.

The Keynote, which will be in the form of a Q & A with the social justice advocate, will discuss the “New Civil Rights Movement” and how to be an activist today. The Keynote will begin at 7 pm (doors open at 6:30 pm) in Janikies Auditorium. Preceding the Keynote will be the MLK Legacy Dinner with Tamika Mallory at 5:30 pm (doors open at 5 pm) in Bello Grand Hall. Any community members wishing to attend the dinner should RSVP; no ticket is required for the Keynote in Janikies. Classes are encouraged to attend.

Her presentation anchors a series of performances, lectures and dialogues that are planned on campus in honor of Black History Month. The events are open to the Bryant community. 

“We are honored for Tamika Mallory to lead us in a discussion of the new civil rights movement and activism in honor of the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., and in celebration of Black History Month at Bryant,” said Mailee Kue, AVP, Student Affairs and PwC Center for Diversity & Inclusion. “The month of February presents a special opportunity to reflect upon the achievements and recognize the central role of Black people in our nation’s history, and we are excited to provide this opportunity for our students to do so with Tamika Mallory.” 

“We were looking for a speaker who would have an honest conversation with us about what has been happening within our communities.”

Students plan events with impact

A collaboration between the Multicultural Student Union (MSU), the Student Programming Board (SPB) and University Student Government (USG) student organizations played an important role in planning Bryant’s MLK Legacy Speaker event, which is sponsored by University offices of Bryant’s PwC Center for Diversity and Inclusion (PwC CDI), Intercultural Cultural Center (ICC) and Center for Student Leadership and Involvement (CSLI). 

“The students really took a leadership role in this—they are the ones who really came together and decided on the speaker,” said Brandi Gbemisola, M.A., Intercultural Center Coordinator in the PwC CDI. Gbemisola, who has worked in the nonprofit sector on the issue of domestic violence and successfully helped advocates of color attain higher positions within Rhode Island nonprofit organizations, acted as a facilitator of the selection process with the students.

“They really wanted to know more about activism,” said Gbemisola. “Tamika Mallory’s truthfulness and passion about the new civil rights movement is what I think they really want to hear, and want the Bryant community to hear.”

“We were looking for a speaker who would have an honest conversation with us about what has been happening within our communities,” confirms Victoria Andrade-Fonseca '22, Marketing Director of MSU. “We are very excited to host Tamika D. Mallory and have her speak to the Bryant community. We feel her experiences and knowledge will bring a new outlook to activism in society today.”  

“We're excited to keep this co-sponsorship tradition going.”

“I hope attendees leave the event feeling more knowledgeable about how far we have come since MLK was fighting for the rights of Black people in American society but still realize how much further we still must go, as well as how they can join the fight,” added Andrade-Fonseca.

SPB VP of Development Drew Waldron '22 worked to organize the MLK Legacy Dinner. “While the dinner is a little different each year, a consistent theme has been perspective. I hope that Tamika Mallory, like Bernice King and Michael Eric Dyson before her, will be able to share her perspective of current and past civil rights issues in America in a way that our audience can resonate with.” 

Collaboration and diversity

The students appreciated the opportunity to work with peers on the event to honor Martin Luther King, Jr., and the work he has done. 

“I was fortunate enough to be involved in the first year of this partnership back in 2020. It's now our third year co-sponsoring this together, and we're excited to keep this co-sponsorship tradition going,” said Waldron. 

“It’s important to recognize all of our collaborators. In creating a community that is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion, it doesn’t work if groups work in isolation,” said Kue. “It’s through our partnerships that we know these initiatives are supported across campus and have hopes of being sustainable.” 

“By supporting more Black-owned businesses and performers, we can help create more opportunities […] and inspire meaningful discussion and conversation.”

Black History Month Events

Students said their plan for Black History Month activities on campus, organized by MSU, is to showcase Black entrepreneurs and performers in the community. “Our goal is to ‘seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history,’ as said by President Gerald Ford. By supporting more Black-owned businesses and performers, we can help create more opportunities […] and inspire meaningful discussion and conversation,” said Aznii Martin '24, Director of Black Enterprise for MSU.

Event Name: Black History Month Kick Off
Date: Tuesday, February 1st
Time: 11 am -2 pm
Location:  Roto
Perks: Food, Giveaways
Event Description: Come join us to learn more about BLACK HISTORY MONTH and learn about our various events for the month! Food will be served!

Event Name: Black Business Expo
Date: Wednesday, February 9th
Time: 12 pm -3 pm
Location: Fisher Fire Fireside
Event Description: Come join us in Fisher to support black businesses. Black businesses will sell their products in Fisher. A 10-dollar gift certificate to this event will be given out as a prize during an MSU meeting prior to the event. Some local businesses that will be in attendance are Slothel, What the Teff and more.  

Event Name: Poetry Night, and performances
Date: Friday, February 11 
Time: 6 pm -8:30 pm 
Location: Fisher 2C
Perks: Food, Movie
Event Description: Tarah Valin, a local poet and possibly other performers will perform various pieces, and students will have the opportunity to buy Tarah Valin’s poetry. This will be a great way to end the week with friends, music, food and poetry.

Event Name: MLK Legacy Event
Date: Tuesday, February 15th
Time: 5:30 pm -8:00 pm
Location: Bello and Janikies
Event Description: Join us as we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at our annual dinner to hear student reflections in Bello, followed by a keynote and Q & A with Tamika D. Mallory, Social Justice Leader & Movement Strategist, in Janikies.

Event Name: Movie Night
Date: Tuesday, February 22
Time: 6 pm -8:00 pm
Location: Fisher 2C
Perks: Food, Entertainment

Event Name: Extravaganza 2022
Date: Friday, February 25th
Time: (Doors open 6 pm) 7 pm
Location: Chace Mac
Event Description: Extravaganza is an award-winning multicultural fashion show highlighting Black History Month that is produced each year by MSU.

Event Name: Bridging the Gap, a multicultural alumni panel
Date: Tuesday, March 1st
Details to follow

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