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The Diversity Lecture Series provides GRCC stakeholders and members of the Grand Rapids community with tangible access to society’s most prolific scholars, thought-leaders, activists and innovative artists. The lecture series aims to connect members of the community with people that hold a compelling interest in shaping a culture of inclusion and social justice.

For over twenty years, the diversity lecture series has helped attendees consider different perspectives through cultural engagement, critical thought and civil discourse. 

  • Lectures are free and open to all.
  • American Sign Language interpreter or closed caption service available.
  • For more information contact

29th Annual Diversity Lecture Series Line-up

Johnny Agar with TeamAgar

When: Oct. 12 from 4-5 p.m.

Where: Applied Technology Center 168

The 29th annual Diversity Lecture Series will launch with a conversation from TeamAgar, Johnny Agar, and his parents, Jeff and Becki Agar. TeamAgar participates in endurance races all over the world. They are also accomplished motivational keynote speakers and authors, and know how to take on life one step at a time.

They have been in over 200 races, including five marathons, numerous half marathons, 25Ks, 10Ks, and 5Ks. They have also participated in over 30 triathlons, including everything from Sprint distance to a full Ironman of 140.6 miles. TeamAgar attempted five full Ironman’s including the iconic Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, which was chronicled by NBC. This past September 2022 TeamAgar completed their first, full distance Ironman in Maryland, where Johnny walked across the finish line. TeamAgar, has previously featured on CBS Mornings, The NBC Today Show, Inside Edition, 

People, USA Today, NBC Nightly News, Huffington Post, and ESPN’s Sportscenter, among many others. Their tenacity and indelible spirit have caught the attention of Olympic swimming great Michael Phelps and the sports apparel company Under Armour—so much so that UA placed them in two commercials: One with Phelps and the other with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. They are also just a dad and son working together as a team. Johnny, despite being diagnosed with cerebral palsy, has willed himself to become the athlete he has always dreamed of being. Johnny’s dad has been the arms, legs, and power to help Johnny fulfill that dream. 

TeamAgar's Website

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Dr. Delia Fernandez-Jones

When: Nov. 9 from 4-5 p.m.

Where: Applied Technology Center room 168

Delia Fernández-Jones is an associate professor of history at Michigan State University. She is a core faculty member of the Chicano/Latino Studies Program and the director of the Womxn of Color Initiatives. She was born and raised in Grand Rapids Michigan among a large, tight-knit Mexican and Puerto Rican community. Drawing on her lived experiences as a Latina in Michigan and extensive primary source research, her work centers on Latinx placemaking in the Midwest. She is particularly interested in how this population transforms the places they live in to suit their political, economic, and social needs. She has two award winning articles on Latinos in Michigan. She is also the author of Making the MexiRican City, Mexican and Puerto Rican Migration, Placemaking, and Activism in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

 Dr. Fernandez-Jones' Website

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Melissa Harris-Perry

When: Jan. 15 at 6 p.m.

Where: Fountain Street Church

Melissa Harris-Perry will join us for our annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration on January 15. Professor Melissa Harris-Perry is the Maya Angelou Presidential Chair in the Department of Politics and International Affairs, Women and Gender Studies, and the Program in Environment and Sustainability at Wake Forest University. There she teaches courses on American politics at the intersections of race, place, and gender

Melissa Harris-Perry's Website

Dr. Antija Allen and Justin T. Stewart

When: Feb. 22 from 8-9:30 a.m. and noon-1:30 p.m.

Where: Sneden Hall 108

Dr. Antija Allen (ann-tee-yuh, al-en) is the Director of the Pellissippi Academic Center for Excellence (PACE) and a tenured Associate Professor of Psychology at Pellissippi State Community College. She was the 2021-2022 recipient of the Roger Crowe Excellence in Teaching award and 2022-2023 recipient of the Staff Excellence award. Antija was the Tennessee Board of Regents 2021-2022 Maxine Smith fellow; her cohort developed a toolkit of best practices for Black male: student success, faculty recruitment and retention. Antija’s recent publications include Academic Freedom in Classroom Discussions and the bestseller, We’re Not OK: Black Faculty Experiences and Higher Education Strategies (Cambridge University Press). It was featured in Inside Higher Ed, the Journal of Blacks in higher education, Diverse: Issues in higher education, and several others. Antija earned her BA in Psychology from Neumann University and MA in Psychology from Pepperdine University. Antija has returned to Columbia University Teachers College where she earned her EdD in Adult Learning & Leadership to teach in their Summer Principals Academy. 

Justin T. Stewart is a Risk Management consultant in financial services, a career coach at Allen Ivy Prep Consulting, and former entertainment journalist, with a B.A. in Journalism from Clark Atlanta University. A native of Boston, MA, he currently resides in Atlanta, GA where he was highlighted in Voyage ATL Magazine as part of ATL’s Most Inspiring Stories. Since his days as an adolescent, Justin has gravitated towards literature, transforming into a passion to become a storyteller. Working in industries including higher education, career services and corporate banking, these experiences, including being a member of the BOLD (Black Organizers, Leaders, and Doers) network, has exposed him to diverse individuals, cultures and perspectives, enabling him to use his platforms to share the stories of those he has encountered. He has used his pen to highlight artists, business owners and non-profit organizations on local and national levels.  His recent research has focused on racial disparities and explored the unique challenges for Black faculty, and Black professionals, that work within predominantly white spaces. Through collaborations with institutions in higher education, his work has been used to develop strategies and enhance DEIB.

Allen Ivy Prep's Website

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Kim Dabbs

When: March 21 from noon-1 p.m.

Where: Virtual

Kim Dabbs will host the final March virtual talk in the 2023-2024 series. Dabbs is a global leader in the area of belonging and purpose. As a thought leader, cultural researcher, author, and speaker, she has been leading social impact, innovation, and education initiatives throughout the globe.

Kim Dabb's Website

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