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Jan. 29, 2024

24th Slavery to Freedom includes music, intergenerational dialogue and art

Designed as a campus and community conversation celebrating the history, heritage, struggles, and triumphs of African Americans in the U.S., Michigan State University’s 24th annual “Dr. William G. Anderson Lecture Series, Slavery to Freedom: An American Odyssey” will kick off Black History Month and take place throughout February. Named for William G. Anderson, MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine senior advisor to the dean and professor of surgical services, the series honors his legacy as a trailblazer in the civil rights movement and the first African American member and president of the American Osteopathic Association Board of Trustees and his contributions to the college.

Marita Gilbert, associate dean for diversity and campus inclusion with the college, leads the “Slavery to Freedom” series. She stresses the importance of broad attendance – MSU students, faculty and staff and the community are welcome.

“We have a focus on intergenerational dialogue – perspectives from trailblazers in the freedom movement, those who have been ‘firsts,’ who’ve really had to carve out space,” Gilbert said. “And now, we’re thinking about what is the legacy we hold and what do freedom movements look like in this contemporary moment?

“We’re really trying to make sure that folks from our community know they are united and welcome. I see this as the college’s gift, both to the university and to the community, because it’s free and open to the public. We will have art; we will have a sweet treat from some of our local vendors. I’m really so excited to see how the series is growing.”

This year’s “Slavery to Freedom” kicks off with the first speaker on Feb. 1 and will include “Love Got me Over: Singing to Freedom Live Concert Recording” Feb. 21 at the Fairchild Theatre with live band performances, storytelling and Black history in collaboration with the MSU College of Music and the MSU Gospel Choir and led by Phoenix Miranda, Caleb Robinson and Rashun Watson.

Special to this year’s “Slavery to Freedom” series is a 24-piece art installation by local artist Mila Lynn.

The 2024 “Dr. William G. Anderson Lecture Series, Slavery to Freedom: An American Odyssey” events are free and open to the public. Registration is required. Learn more about the series and events and register here.

2024 Slavery to Freedom speakers

The events are both in-person and virtual.

Tanisha Ford

Feb. 1, 2024, 5 p.m.
Wharton Center for Performing Arts
Pasant Theatre

Tanisha Ford is the author of four books relating to civil rights and Black culture, and will speak on the intersection of politics, economics and culture. She has received several awards and honors for her work. For example, she was named one of the Root’s 100 Most Influential African Americans. Her research has been supported by many institutions, including Ford Foundation, New America and Emerson Collective, to name a few.

MC Lyte

Feb. 8, 5 p.m.
Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center
Big Ten AB

MC Lyte is an American rapper, DJ, actress and entrepreneur. She is the first female of hiphop’s emcees to release a solo album and tease a new podcast. She also opened doors for many to join what is now being celebrated as “50 Years of Hip Hop.” She recently received the “I Am Hip Hop” Lifetime Achievement Award from BET and was also honored at the VH1 Hip Hop Honors. She is also the most recognizable pioneer across generations.

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber

Feb. 15, 5 p.m.
Wharton Center for Performing Arts
Pasant Theatre

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber is president and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, bishop of The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church, Goldsboro, N.C. for past 29 years and professor in the practice of public theology and public policy and founding director of the Center for Public Theology and Public policy at Yale Divinity School. He has authored four books regarding morality and social justice.

Rani G. Whitfield

Feb. 23, 5 p.m.
Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center

Rani G. Whitfield is a highly accomplished board-certified family physician specializing in sports medicine. Identifying community wellness as a freedom movement, Whitfield's talk will focus on Black men's health. He is widely recognized for his advocacy work, serving as a national spokesperson for the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. He has earned numerous awards, including the ASA Southeastern Affiliates Service Award, the American Stroke Association Legacy Award and the NAACP Freedom Award.


If you would like to help sponsor this great series, you may choose from one of these levels of sponsorship:

Corporate sponsor - $5,000
Platinum sponsor - $2,500
Gold sponsor - $1,500
Silver sponsor - $1,000
Patron sponsor - $500


Please contact Barbara Breedlove for more information. Call (517) 432-4979 or email

This story was adapted from a piece on the College of Osteopathic Medicine website.

Learn more about MSU's Black History Month events.

Support initiatives serving and celebrating the MSU Black community

MSU recognizes February as Black History Month. The Spartan community comes together to strengthen resources, programs, research centers and scholarships that support Black students at MSU and to promote an inclusive culture throughout the university. Learn more.

By: E. LaClear

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