A multi-talented presenter will cap Ferris State University’s 2018 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration, as Monti Washington offers a spoken challenge to students and the Big Rapids community on Wednesday, Jan. 17 with his keynote address, “Which Lives Matter?”
Washington said he intends to help his audience, in the University Center ballroom, dive into the issues surrounding inequality and social justice, with the program, beginning at 7 p.m.
“I share my personal experience, which will include a great deal of context that people can see and understand, so they are not taking in a false narrative,” Washington said. “I want my audience to learn how they can make a difference, with full knowledge and belief that black lives and all lives matter.”
Washington said in the ideal sense, all lives do matter, but reality brings observers to see there are various societal groups who may not matter equally. He believes it is important that students search for facts and truths by taking ownership in their role as leaders, who help others grow and move past divisive obstacles.
“There will be a great deal of crowd participation in my talk, and I illustrate some of the points I hope to make through spoken-word poetry,” Washington said. “Everywhere I go, a vast majority of the audience is accepting of this message, they are ready to embrace it. Some people have their preconceived notions, and they will hear a black man offering a ‘white-guilt’ message. I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable, but I do intend to challenge my audience to examine their beliefs, while considering how they can best associate with others on their campus.”
Washington said as he completed his college education, he embraced the opportunity to become politically active, with Barack Obama’s candidacy and successful presidential campaign serving as a rallying point for many students at his school.
“We had 100-percent voter participation, coming together as a group for that cause remains a favorite memory and experience,” Washington said. “It seems that students are facing more fear-based messages on social media at this time, which accentuates the importance of being aware of one’s environment and situations. I hear my audiences saying they need to ‘stay woke,’ to be educated about what is happening, to be transparent, real people who are capable of being wrong.”
Washington said Martin Luther King, Jr.’s pursuits to further social justice and civil rights have their parallels in current issues that could potentially divide and separate communities or nations. As a leadership and diversity speaker, he said it is important to stay abreast of a great deal of information to further his message of inclusion and education.
“I work hard to be accurate for my audience,” Washington said. “The 24/7 news cycle certainly has an impact on the way I present my message.”
More information on Ferris’ MLK celebration is available online. Washington’s presentation from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on the 17th is free and open to the public. The event is co-sponsored by Entertainment Unlimited, OMSS and the Student Activity Fund.
Anyone with a disability wishing to attend any event can contact the Office of Multicultural
Student Services by email or by calling (231) 591-2617 at least 72 hours prior to the event.
PHOTO CAPTION: Speaker, poet and activist Monti Washington is the featured speaker during Ferris State University’s 2018 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration. Washington will present “What Lives Matter?” on Wednesday, Jan. 17 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the University Center ballroom, an event free and open to the public.