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Jan. 27, 2023

Slavery to Freedom: Celebrating Black history with art, speakers, events at MSU

The 23rd Annual ‘Dr. William G. Anderson Lecture Series, Slavery to Freedom: An American Odyssey!’ Brings art, speakers, events to the community

When Marley Dias was 11 years old, she started a movement to increase the representation of Black girls as lead characters in books. Her #1000BlackGirlBooks movement has gained national attention and has collected more than 13,000 books.

College of Osteopathic Medicine Michigan State University presents the 23rd Annual Dr. William G. Anderson Lecture Series Slavery to Freedom: An American Odyssey ... MARLEY DIAS February 2, 2023, 5 p.m. Wharton Center for Performing Arts Pasant Theatre DR. ANGELA DAVIS February 9, 2023, 5 p.m. Wharton Center for Performing Arts Pasant Theatre DR. FREEMAN HRABOWSKI February 23, 2023, 5 p.m. Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center Auditorium The Dr. William G. Anderson Lecture Series: Slavery to Freedom gives members of the mid-Michigan community opportunities to interact with multicultural leaders from education, business, industry, entertainment and government. For 23 years, this series has featured living icons of the American Civil Rights Movement. All activities are free of charge. For more information, visit

Dias will kick off the 23rd annual “Dr. William G. Anderson Lecture Series, Slavery to Freedom: An American Odyssey” Presented by the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine and named in honor of William G. Anderson, the series honors Anderson’s legacy as a trailblazer in the Civil Rights Movement, as the first African American member and president of the American Osteopathic Association Board of Trustees and for his contributions to the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine.

“The ‘Slavery to Freedom’ series is an annual opportunity to reflect on the richness of our histories and herstories while also preparing ourselves for freedom movements and justice work now and in the future,” said Marita Gilbert, associate dean of diversity and campus inclusion at the college and leader of the “Dr. William G. Anderson Lecture Series, Slavery to Freedom: An American Odyssey” series programming.

Ms. Dias’ work is a great example of how everyone can make a difference and contribute to the justice movement. We want our community to see what the freedom movement can look like right now and to contribute as active participants in the movement.”

That’s why this year, in addition to the speaker events, the series is going out into the greater community. Detroit-based artist Darnell Kendricks will share “This Joy That I Have,” an artwork piece he created specifically for the series.

The piece, he said, was inspired by civil rights leaders and the event itself.

“The positioning of the sun on the same level as the people represents timeliness, and the red cardinal spiritually represents that someone who has passed on is looking in on those here and helps us to know who we are and what we are in the living world including those that were in our lives in the past,” Kendricks said.

In addition, the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine is hosting a book drive to collect 1,000 books featuring Black girls as the main character to share with children in the community via local Reading is Fundamental efforts and small lending libraries, as well as small events with local groups.

The new community lending libraries are possible thanks to the support and partnership of the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters, which supplied the materials and built the libraries. Community members can support the book drive.

Series Events and Speakers

Teen empowering event
Thursday, Feb. 2 Waverly Middle School (620 Snow Road, Lansing)

Marley Dias, creator of #1000BlackGirlBooks, joins Waverly Community Schools and Grit, Glam and Guts, in an empowering event for girls. GGG is a Lansing-area organization focused on empowering teen girls to gain higher self-awareness, develop a healthy self-identity and recognize and engage in the power of their voice. The event — by invite only — will include 6th to 8th grade girls from Waverly Community Schools and 10th to 12th grade students from the GGG Lansing Chapter. Media is invited to join at 11:45 a.m.

Marley Dias
Thursday, Feb. 2 at 5 p.m., Pasant Theatre at Wharton Center for Performing Arts

Activist, author, and creator of #1000BlackGirlBooks, Dias will give the keynote to kick off the series. In addition to collecting over 13,000 children’s books featuring Black girls as the lead character, she wrote “Marley Dias Gets It Done: And So Can You!,” was named one of the 24 most influential teens of 2018 by TIME and also was named the youngest member of the Forbes 30 Under 30. Today, Dias is a student at Harvard University and is the executive producer and host of “Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices” on Netflix.

Angela Davis
Thursday, Feb. 9, at 5 p.m., Pasant Theatre at Wharton Center for Performing Arts

Angela Davis is a university educator well-known for her activism, scholarship and focus on building “communities of struggle for economic, racial and gender justice.” She is the author of 11 books and is known for helping to popularize the notion of a “prison industrial complex,” urging others to think about a world without prison systems.

Freeman Hrabowski
Thursday, Feb. 23 at 5 p.m., Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center auditorium

Freeman Hrabowski served as president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, from 1992-2022. He also co-founded the Meyerhoff Scholars Program, received the American Council on Education’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018 and a $1.5 billion pledge from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, HHMI, to support early career scientists and increase diversity in STEM through the Freeman Hrabowski Scholars Program.

The 2023 “Dr. William G. Anderson Lecture Series, Slavery to Freedom: An American Odyssey” speaker events are free and open to the public, but registration is required.

More information about the series and how to participate in the events and book drive is available online.

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