College hosting anti-oppression leaders for MLK week


Bree Newsome. Courtesy GVSU

Two women who started national anti-oppression movements will speak at a local college this winter to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.

April Reign and Bree Newsome will speak at Grand Valley State University’s 2018 commemoration of King’s legacy, which runs run January 15-20.

Reign, the Washington, D.C. attorney and writer who created the viral hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, will speak Jan. 15.

Newsome, the filmmaker and artist who climbed the South Carolina Capitol’s flagpole in 2015 to remove a Confederate flag, is slated to speak Jan. 17.

The theme of the week is #WhereDoWeGoFromHere?

April Reign

Reign sent a tweet, containing the viral hashtag, critical of the 88th Academy Awards ceremony and lack of people of color nominated in major acting and directing categories. The tweet was a catalyst for a social media movement and ultimately caused the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to change its membership policies and voting rules.

She now has a social media following of more than 100,000 and is listed among the top 15 accounts on #BlackTwitter by the National Journal.

As part of a collaborative effort among GVSU, Grand Rapids Community College and Davenport University, Reign will also give presentations at GRCC, Fountain Street Church in downtown Grand Rapids and Davenport's campus during her two-day stay in West Michigan.

Bree Newsome

Newsome’s action of climbing the South Carolina Capitol’s flagpole and removing the Confederate flag came shortly after the mass shooting of nine black people at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. The Confederate flag was permanently removed from the statehouse by then-Gov. Nikki Haley and discussion moved across the country considering flags and monuments.

Newsome earned the 2016 NAACP Image Award and was named to the “Ebony 100,” recognizing her commitment to civil rights.

For updates about GVSU’s 2018 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Week, visit

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