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The Brilliance and Resilience of Black Americans in Technology & Innovation

City of Southfield
2021 Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Walk

Week 1
February 1, 3, and 5
The Brilliance and Resilience of Black People
A Mike Ellison production; a three-part “Edutainment” production that includes multi-media, spoken word, history, commentary and audience engagement.
12 p.m.
Join Zoom Meeting https://ltu.zoom.us/j/94359995038?pwd=L3RMb1hudzFydndLbzR1bnBUbUtsZz09

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Mike Ellison was born to African-American parents living and working in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, before the family relocated to Reston, Virginia where he was raised, Mike fully realized his calling as an Executive Artist in Detroit. Utilizing “edutainment” as a vehicle to promote progressive initiatives throughout the United States and his birth country-including orphan support programs and the construction of several healthcare clinics-he is noted for creating social impact productions that engage, inform and inspire communities. 

Mike has produced and headlined national community outreach tours in concert with the American Cancer Society and released independent music projects AfroFlow, AfroFlow II, and Flytanium. He earned a 2020 Emmy® as co-producer of “DETROIT: One Nation Under A Groove”, a commercial music video promoting Metro Detroit tourism. Mike holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications from the University of Virginia and his father, the late journalist Bob Ellison, was the first African-American president of the White House Correspondents’ Association.

Since 2004, as a performer, fundraiser and volunteer, Ellison has helped raise awareness and money for health initiatives across Ethiopia, including African Prize for Leadership Honoree and celebrated humanitarian, Sister Tibebe Maco’s Hiwot Integrated Development Association (HIDA), formerly HIV/AIDS Prevention Care and Support Organization (HAPCSO); the construction of Harrar’s Fistula Clinic, spearheaded the Fistula Foundation and Tesfa Iniste, a volunteer group of Ethiopian women; and medical missions conducted by the Ethiopian North American Health Professionals Association (ENAHPA) and its construction of the Maternal Child Health Center in Awassa. In 2008, Ellison led the American Cancer Society’s first official delegation to Ethiopia in support of oncology at Addis Ababa’s Black Lion Hospital and Ethiopia’s Life’s Second Chance Foundation. Ellison’s work with the Sister Tibebe Maco’s orphan support programs and numerous Ethiopian and Eritrean Student Associations at colleges and universities continues today.

Executive Artist Mike Ellison recently portrayed Detective Sorenson on NBC’s CHICAGO FIRE (IMDB Michael D. Ellison),with additional film, theater and television credits that include “Batman vs. Superman: The Dawn of Justice,” “Into The Storm,” “The Ides of March,” “Love and Honor,” “Butterfly Effect 3: Revelations,” “Joy Road,” “Beyond The Mask,” “All’s Faire In Love,” “Ovid and The Art of Love,” “ADAM,” “Ghost of New Orleans” and “Standing in the Shadows of Motown.” He’s also appeared in the cable and network television shows HUNG (HBO), DEF POETRY (HBO), DETROIT 1-8-7 (ABC) the NFL Network’s THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL; and stage productions of A Soldier’s Play, Full Circle and Free Fall.

Week 2
Tuesday, February 9
Future of STEM panel discussion
Powerful changes are taking place in STEM, real estate and business, however, there are still diversity, equity & inclusion discrepancies that impact underrepresented populations in terms of representation and career growth. Moderator and entrepreneur Cheryl Ajamu will speak with a panel of professionals that have created their own pathways of success.  Join us to hear their stories and learn from their experience..
12 p.m.
Submit Questions for Panelists here

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Cheryl Parks Ajamu is the Founder of CEO of The Ajamu Group, LLC., her 16-year old company secures advertising and sponsorships for national media companies, celebrity driven events, provides Event Management and social media strategies.  Cheryl’s advertising career spans 21 years with Advertising Sales Management positions at Black Entertainment Television Publishing Group, Savoy, Heart & Soul and Honey magazines.

Cheryl is the first African American female to create and produce a sanctioned event during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the Multicultural Media Luncheon, an Academy awards style program that honors communities of color for their achievements in the automotive industry and features a celebrity keynote speaker.

Cheryl is also the first African American woman to own and produce a HBCU Football Classic, the Detroit Football Classic Weekend.

Cheryl Parks Ajamu is the recipient of the Orchards Children’s Services Champions for Children Award (2012),   Outstanding Alumni Award, University of Memphis (2019),  General Motors Entrepreneurial Spirit Award (2020).  She is a graduate of the University of Memphis.

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Earl Lucas Jr. is the Chief Exterior Designer for the Lincoln Motor Company. His car design career spans over 20 years in the automotive industry were he has acquired well over 100 automotive design patents. He has worked and lived in the United Kingdom, Germany and has traveled to China all because of his love for the automobile. 

Highlights from his career include the 2018 Lincoln Navigator (which won the 2018 North American International Auto Show Truck of the year), the Lincoln Navigator Concept and the award-winning 2010 Ford Taurus, in which Lucas led the exterior redesign of Ford's flagship sedan. 

He has won a number of personal design awards ranging from the Rainbow PUSH Trailblazer Award, the Ajamu Group - Visionary Award for Design and a Testimonial Resolution from the Detroit City Council.  

Lucas began his career at Ford in May of 1999 as a Senior Designer on the 2000 Ford Expedition and Ford F-150 interior design team. Prior to joining Ford Lucas worked for Reese Design, a small design firm that developed aircraft interiors for the Sultan of Brunei in Austin, Texas. Lucas holds a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree from the College of Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan with a concentration in transportation design.  

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Crystal Windham is the Director of Design for Cadillac Interiors, leading the team responsible for some of Cadillac’s most iconic interiors, including the 2021 Cadillac Escalade and, most recently, the Cadillac LYRIQ. Windham became the director of Cadillac Interior Design in January 2016. Since joining General Motors in 1994, her assignments have included multiple vehicle brands including special project work abroad.

She became the first African-American female director in GM Design’s history in 2008 and spearheaded several award-winning interiors, including the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu and 2014 Chevrolet Impala.

Windham encourages students to consider higher education and careers in art and design through GM Design’s You Make a Difference program. Her awards include Urban Wheel Designer of the Year, the Emerging Leader Award from the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and Automotive News 100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry.

Windham holds an industrial design degree from the College for Creative Studies (CCS), an MBA from the University of Detroit-Mercy and is a member of the school’s MBA alumni board.

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Karmell Thomas is Manager, Supplier Diversity at Eaton. She is responsible for developing and executing robust strategies that leverage the unique and innovative perspectives of diverse suppliers to drive value within Eaton’s supply chain. 

Karmell has over ten years of progressive technical and management experience in conjunction with developing and leading Inclusion and Diversity initiatives. Her technical background coupled with her program management skills make her especially adept at understanding the innovative products and services that diverse suppliers can offer to the Electrical and Industrial Power Management company, Eaton.

Karmell has defined, planned and lead complex engineering customer product integration programs, developed strategic partnerships and planned and executed Inclusion & Diversity efforts both personally and professionally. 

Karmell holds a both a bachelor’s and Masters of Science from the college of Engineering at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI as well as a minor in Spanish. She is also a board member at the Louis Stokes Alliance of Minority Participation, an organization which aims to increase the quality and quantity of minority populations successfully completing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) higher educational programs.

Karmell currently resides in Metro Detroit with her husband and two children: Jackson (5 years) and Marley (6 months).

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Katrina Turnbow is the owner of Kanopi Social and a Google Digital Media Coach. Katrina Turnbow’s career includes digital media training, and work on teams conducting sales, marketing, communication, and social media strategy development. Her expertise led to her being named Google’s digital training coach for metro Detroit. She was chosen to deliver service for this global information giant – identifying, enrolling, educating, and empowering underrepresented business owners in the Motor City. Her current work calls upon years of expertise in building brand recognition and attracting business for the clients. Specializing in strategy, trend analysis, and analytical research, Turnbow identifies ways for these clients to capitalize on opportunities that promote their products and services.
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Native Detroiter (West Side) that loves the energy and hustle of Detroiters. Improvement, Innovation, and Implementation have always been at the core of my approach for all things in life. My parents instilled a family and team mindset in me at an early age by being 1 of 7 siblings that consist of 6 brothers and 1 sister. I’ve employed this philosophy in my own family that includes a wife of 22 years and 3 sons. 

Being team oriented was critical in playing college basketball and ultimately played a major role in my professional growth. It is what allows for communication and the ability to listen to learn and not only respond. My early career was spent in Chicago and it allowed me to be aware of the economic growth Chicago experienced that failed to include the African American community with equity. This form of economic and cultural gentrification was the nucleus for my return to Detroit. The ability to work in an ecosystem that uses a wholistic approach to inclusion is a philosophy and theory that is being employed and practiced. 

This practice has been my focus since returning to Detroit almost 8 years ago. Through job creation, alignment with national programs for education and placement (NPower Org.) creation of minority supplier and developer opportunities the emphasis remains to find “on ramps” for multiple routes of success.

Week 3
Monday, Feb. 15
3rd Annual John G. Petty Sr. Community Champion Award 
Join us in congratulating Dr. Sibrina Collins, the Marburger STEM Center Executive Director, as the newest recipient of the John G. Petty Sr. Community Champion Award. 

The award honors John G. Petty Sr., Lawrence Technological University’s first black trustee, who served our community for over 20 years. The award was established in 2019 as a part of our University's programming for Black History Month. Our student selection committee desired an opportunity to honor an individual each year who's positively impacting the lives of African-Americans on campus and in our community. 
Online nomination Form - accepting nominations until January 31
12:30 p.m.
@LawrenceTechU Facebook Live

Zoom Link: Please join us on the Lawrence Technological University Facebook page to view the cermony

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Dr. K. Renee Horton is a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana and lifelong lover of science and NASA. A graduate of Louisiana State University with a B.S. of Electrical Engineering with a minor in Math in 2002 and a Ph.D. in Material Science with a concentration in Physics, becoming the first African American to graduate from the University of Alabama in 2011 in this area.

Dr.  K. Renee Horton currently serves as the Space Launch System (SLS) Quality Engineer in the NASA Residential Management Office at Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in New Orleans.  She worked for NASA, first as a student from 2009 to 2011, and then started her career as a mechanical test engineer in 2012.

In 2016, Renee was elected President of the National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP) as the second woman to hold the office. She has served the physics community abroad as a member of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) Women in Physics Working Group and currently serves on several advisory boards dedicated to a more diverse inclusion in physics. In 2017, she was elevated to a Fellow in the NSBP, which is the highest honor bestowed upon a member.

Renee has been an invited speaker for the first International Women and Girls Day at the United Nations, Essence Power Stage, March for Science – New Orleans and recently the LSU Engineering Spring Commencement.  She has spoken all over the world including South Africa, Brazil, South Korea, Canada, Mexico and the beautiful Virgin Islands. She is the author of Dr. H Explores the Universe, Dr. H and her Friends, and Dr. H Explores the ABCs.

February 1 - 28
Show Me Democracy Film (Viewing)
The film asks us to examine how a committed group of college students can make a difference in a complex and imperfect system and what methods have the most impact. See the trailer here.
24 hours per day
Streaming Link: https://vimeo.com/313275838/4716b53cf8

Week 4
Tuesday, February 23
Show Me Democracy panel discussion
Join Dan Parris, Director, and three activists from the film as they help you understand the series of actions that led them to act.
5:30 p.m.
Zoom Link: https://ltu.zoom.us/j/94484636786?pwd=dVFjSnI3Zms5S1J6Z0k0cVZtc0hMUT09 

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Dan Parris is an award-winning filmmaker and owner of Speak Up Productions, a St. Louis based film production company focused on documentaries and media content for non-profits. He’s the director of the feature length documentaries When the Saints, Show Me Democracy and the award-winning film What Matters? Dan was the closing speaker at the 2014 TEDxGatewayArch City 2.0 event. Most recently, Dan co-founded the non-profit, Continuity, whose mission is to expand diversity in media production.
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Karina Arango is a proud first generation student who graduated from Fontbonne University in 2015 with a Bachelor’s in Communications. Karina is passionate about equal access to postsecondary education for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and undocumented students. She has worked on education policies through internships with The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis, Deaconess Foundation and St. Louis Graduates. Karina has authored a number of editorial pieces on issues affecting students, DACA students in particular. In spring of 2015, she was featured as Latina to Watch in !en Contacto!, the official magazine of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan St. Louis. Karina dedicated three years as a Teaching Assistant and Student Mentor in Ritenour's International Welcome Center for immigrant students. She is currently earning her Masters in Educational Policy at Loyola University Chicago.

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Originally from Omaha, Nebraska, Amber has spent most of her professional journey promoting educational equity for students in St. Louis, Missouri. She has worked both in direct practice, advising students as they prepare for college, and also in nonprofit leadership creating programs and initiatives to support students as they journey to and through postsecondary education. As a former Senior Policy Intern for the Active Advocacy Coalition, Amber led AAC’s work to analyze and restructure Missouri’s “Bright Flight” merit scholarship program.

Amber is a graduate of Saint Louis University with bachelor’s degrees in Social Work and Psychology and a graduate of the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University with a Master's in Social Work.

With a passion for content creation, data-informed storytelling, and promoting opportunity for people of color, Amber currently oversees Diversity and Inclusion communications at Nestlé Purina Headquarters USA.

Wednesday, February 24
Book Discussion: Race after Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code by Ruha Benjamin
The LTU Student Government and Black Student Union book club's February reading selection will be Ruha Benjamin's third book; which cuts through tech-industry hype to understand how emerging technologies can reinforce White supremacy and deepen social inequity. We will join the Student Government & Black Student Union (BSU) bookclub in reading this title as a feature. You can review the electronic library guide here.  

  "Race to the Future? Reimagining the Default Settings of Technology and Society" with Ruha Benjamin
  Advancing Racial Literacy In Tech Handbook

8 p.m.
Book Club Zoom Link
Meeting ID: 943 1871 8447
Passcode: ltubooks

For more information on these activities, email the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at ODEI@ltu.edu.