Category Archives: Community News

Sons: Seeing the Modern African American Male

Muskegon, MI – The Muskegon Museum of Art presents SONS: Seeing the Modern African American Male, an exhibition of portraits of black men from greater Muskegon, as photographed by artist Jerry Taliaferro. The exhibition runs December 13, 2018 through March 10, 2019.


The 94 portraits in the SONS exhibition explore how the black American male perceives himself and how he is perceived by others. The men pictured in the show were nominated from the greater Muskegon area by a committee of their peers. The goal was to portray a wide range of ages, backgrounds, occupations, and interests to best represent not only the black men of our community, but also to mirror the day-to-day experiences of their fellow Americans.


The men pictured are artists, musicians, barbers, doctors, lawyers, health care workers, engineers, entrepreneurs, businessmen, teachers, athletes, retired servicemen, clergy, poets, factory workers, laborers, security guards, school administrators, and coaches. They are also husbands, fathers, brothers, sons, co-workers, teammates, friends, and neighbors. It is the first time many of these men have been publicly recognized.


In the artist Jerry Taliaferro’s words:

“[The exhibition] is both timely and relevant. Recent events point to the urgent need for conversations about the contemporary black American male. Any effort, however humble, to foster an understanding of this largely misunderstood and often marginalized segment of the American population is of utmost importance.”


SONS: Seeing the Modern African American Male is an invitation to share the experiences of the black men in our city, to see them as individuals, hear their stories, and better understand how their lives have been impacted by a legacy of racial and social injustices. In bringing this exhibition to Muskegon, it is the hope of the SONS Committee and the staff and Board of Trustees of the Muskegon Museum of Art that we can foster an open and welcoming dialogue that leads to greater understanding, empathy, and community.


About the Artist

Jerry Taliaferro was born in the small southern town of Brownsville, Tennessee. After graduating high school in May 1972, he joined the Army. He entered the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1973 and graduated as a member of the Class of 1977. Taliaferro’s interest in photography began during his post at Fort Bragg, North Carolina for Special Forces training in 1981. While serving in Germany, his interest in photography continued and, in 1985, his work was published for the first time when a Munich magazine purchased the rights to one of his images. Jerry returned to the U.S. and began doing assignments for advertising and design firms in 1985. He left the military in 1988 and began a career in commercial photography. Over the ensuing years, his interest turned more to fine art photography. This change in direction has resulted in several projects and published pieces. Women of a New Tribe, a photographic study of the spiritual and physical beauty of black women, is one of his latest projects. Jerry Taliaferro currently resides in Charlotte, NC.


SONS Committee

Special thanks to the members of our SONS Committee, without which this exhibition would not have been possible: TJ Chappel, Jon Covington, Chris Dean, Arthur Garner, Ed Garner, Justin Jennings, Bernard Loudermill, William Muhammad, Marvin Nash, Dr. Dale Nesbary, Kelly Richards, J. Arthur Sanders, Andrew Sims, George Walker, Rodney Walker, James Waters, and Jonathan Wilson.


SONS: Seeing the Modern African American Male is underwritten by Fifth Third Bank, and co-sponsored by Arconic – Whitehall Operations and Warner Norcross & Judd, LLP. Program support is provided by the Michigan Humanities Council and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs. Media Partner is WGVU Public Media.


Community Programming


SONS opens with a public reception from 5:30 to 7:30 pm on Thursday, December 13, 2018. A free Community Day on Saturday, December 15 begins a series of free community programs related to the exhibition, including the premier of Black Man, a feature-length documentary, at the Frauenthal Center on Monday, December 17.


Opening Reception

Thursday, December 13

5:30 – 7:30 pm

Meet artist Jerry Taliaferro at this celebration opening event for SONS: Seeing the Modern African American Male. Refreshments will be served. This event is free and open to the public.


SONS Saturday Free Community Day

Saturday, December 15

10:00 am – 3:00 pm

Celebrate the opening weekend of SONS: Seeing the African American Male with a FREE community day at the MMA. Schedule:

11:00 am – 12:00 pm Reading, in the gallery, of children’s books written by African American authors

11:00 am & 1:00 pm Film in the Auditorium

12:00 pm – 3:00 pm Docent led tours through the exhibition and in-gallery activities


Black Man Film Premier

Monday, December 17

6:00 – 8:00 pm

Frauenthal Center: 425 W. Western Ave., downtown Muskegon

The MMA, in partnership with Jon Covington, presents Black Man, a feature length documentary that tells the stories of the men behind SONS: Seeing the Modern African American Male.

“Black Man is a kaleidoscope of raw, riveting, candid conversations with black men about their lives, their loves, their losses, their AMERICA! Close to three dozen men share first hand, their perspectives in ways we’ve not seen on film of the everyday black man. Muskegon, Michigan is the backdrop for “Black Man,” but the stories are Any Town, USA.” (Jon Covington)

FREE Admission courtesy of Community Foundation for Muskegon County.


Book Discussion

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

Thursday, January 17

5:30 pm – 6:30 pm

The MMA will host a guided book discussion about Ralph Ellison’s classic novel, Invisible Man, exploring text in context with the SONS exhibition. Books are available to check out at local libraries. Hackley Public Library, Fruitport Area Library, and the Muskegon Area District Library’s Norton Shores and Muskegon Heights branches will also host book discussions on varying evenings. Free and open to the public.


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Free Community Day

Monday, January 21

10:00 am – 8:00 pm

The Muskegon Museum opens its doors to welcome the community on this day in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Visitors can enjoy the galleries, films in the auditorium, crafts in the classroom, and guided tours. The MMA will host a panel discussion on community and regional issues in the evening. Admission and all activities are free.


10:00 am – 1:00 pm

Led by MMA docents

1:00 – 3:00 pm

Led by Muskegon High School AP Art students

Films & Crafts

10:00 am – 3:00 pm

Enjoy crafts in the classroom and view the film Black Man in the auditorium.

Panel Discussion

6:30 – 8:00 pm

Jon Covington will moderate a panel discussion with experts on community and regional issues. The discussion is free and open to the public.


  • William Muhammed

James Jackson Museum of African American Art, Board Chair – Member of Board of Trustees

  • Andrew Sims

Michigan Minority Business Development Council, V.P. Central & Western MI, Marketing & Communication

  • Alfredo Hernandez

Michigan Department of Civil Rights in Lansing, Equity Officer


Open Mic Night Hosted by Kaizen Kabir

Thursday, February 28

5:30 – 7:30 pm

Local poet Kaizen Kabir (also known as: Kumasi Mack) of WriAck Radio will host a spoken word open mic night with a DJ and invited artists in the MMA’s auditorium. Free and open to the public.


Comedy Night with Hen Sapp

“Keepin’ it Clean!”

Thursday, March 7

5:430 – 7:30 pm

Hen Sapp has been dubbed “The Doctor of Comedy” for the healing properties of clean humor. This comedy program by is suitable for families.  Free and open to the public.


Free Brown Bag Film Series

See free lunchtime films on 2nd and 4th Thursdays of the month. Auditorium doors open at noon. Films start at 12:15 pm. Most films run an hour or less.

Thursday, December 13

Up From the Bottoms: The Search for the American Dream

Thursday, December 27

Against the Odds: The Artists of the Harlem Renaissance

Thursday, January 10

National Archives: Five African American Artists, 1971

Thursday, January 24

Kehinde Wiley: An Economy of Grace

Thursday, February 14

Black Man by Jon Covington


The Muskegon Museum of Art is located at 296 W. Webster Ave. in downtown Muskegon, Michigan. Visitor information is available at or at 231.720.2570.


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Muskegon, MI – The State of Michigan released its annual Economic Impact of Tourism report for 2017 today, showing a 4.2% increase statewide in visitor spending, with a 3.1% increase in visitor spending in Muskegon County. The report was prepared by Tourism Economics of Wayne, Pennsylvania and London, England, an international leader in tourism research.


Statewide, visitors to Michigan spent over $24.7 billion in 2017, and over $313.3 million in Muskegon County alone, resulting in over 340,000 direct and indirect jobs in the state and over 4,600 direct and indirect jobs in Muskegon County.

2017 Tourism Economic Impact – Muskegon Employment

“We knew 2017 was a good year for tourism in Muskegon County,” said Bob Lukens, Director of Visit Muskegon, the county’s convention and visitors bureau. “This research confirms and reinforces our belief that tourism means jobs for Muskegon County residents and revenues for Muskegon County businesses.”


The Muskegon County economic impact statistics revealed that in 2017 the following revenues were collected:

  • Lodging revenues: $23.9 million
  • Food & Beverage revenues: $81.7 million
  • Retail revenues: $40.4 million
  • Recreation revenues (including casino wagering): $41.3 million
  • Transportation revenues (including local and air transport): $125.9 million

Those numbers are expected to grow in coming years as a variety of new projects are in development or underway in Muskegon County, including two new hotels under construction in Fruitport Township;

— more –


hotel renovations and additional lodging rooms in the cities of Muskegon and Muskegon Heights; restaurant, brewery, café, and retail development across the County; new park and kayak launch development in the City of Norton Shores; additional development at the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex; and development of a convention center in the City of Muskegon and a casino in Fruitport Township.


“As tourism continues to grow across the state and in Muskegon County, we’re seeing how important it is to our economy,” said Mark Eisenbarth, Muskegon County Administrator. “As the fourth largest industry in Muskegon County, we’re grateful to the municipalities, organizations, and businesses that are helping to grow the industry and create more jobs.”


“It’s an exciting time to be in Muskegon County,” Lukens said. “The tourism-related development happening here is nothing short of amazing and is shaping the County’s future. We’re truly all working together toward a common goal of making Muskegon County a premier visitor destination along the West Michigan shoreline, and people across the Midwest are noticing.”

Muskegon’s Dancing with the Local Stars brings together community leaders, professional dancers to tackle hunger & food insecurity

With more than 25,000 people in Muskegon County facing food insecurity, it is very likely you know someone who is hungry. Perhaps you are hungry. Or a family member. Maybe it’s a student of yours. A friend who doesn’t want to tell you they don’t know where their next meal is coming from.


Click here to view full article

Muskegon County Calendar of Events December 3-9, 2018

Click here to view upcoming events.


COE November 26 – December 3, 2018

Click here for November-December Events

Little River Band of Ottawa Indians’ Muskegon Co. Gaming Project Moves Forward with Federal Land-­Into-­Trust Process

Bureau of Indian Affairs Issues Draft EIS
Little River Band of Ottawa Indians’ Muskegon Co. Gaming Project Moves
Forward with Federal Land-­Into-­Trust Process
Washington D.C. — A Muskegon County casino proposed by the Little River Band of
Ottawa Indians moved another step forward. The U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau
of Indian Affairs (BIA) today published the Notice of Availability of a Draft Environmental
Impact Statement (DEIS) in the Federal Register as the next step in the environmental
review to place land in trust for gaming purposes of the tribe.


The BIA announced a public hearing on the DEIS will be held December 12th at 6 p.m.
at Fruitport Middle School auditorium, located at 3113 E. Pontaluna Road.


“This is a long awaited big step for the Little River Band and the Muskegon community
to bring economic development to the region as the opportunity to comment on the
DEIS is an important public part of the review process,” said Tribal Ogema Larry
Romanelli. “We strongly encourage the community to join us at the public hearing to
express their opinions that this project will have a positive impact on Muskegon.
Community feedback is important to the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ ability to evaluate the
potential environmental impacts of the project.”


Community input will take place at the public hearing, where members of the public can
comment on the Draft EIS published by the BIA. The BIA will then take that community
input into account as it prepares a final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in
response to the Tribes’ application to put land into federal trust for development of the
proposed Muskegon casino. The BIA will also accept written comments. Written
comments must be sent to the BIA before January 7, 2019. The DEIS, and an
explanation of the review process is available at


The EIS will take a hard look at the potential environmental impacts of the project,
including land use, geology and soils, water resources, agricultural resources, biological
resources, cultural resources, traffic, air quality, noise, public health/environmental
hazards, hazardous material and waste, public services, and socio-­economics.


The Little River Band filed an application February 2015 requesting the BIA to place 60
acres of land in trust for a $180 million casino and economic development project at the
former Great Lakes Downs racetrack site in Fruitport Township. The project is expected
to create more than 1,200 new jobs in Muskegon County. The BIA held a scoping
hearing in October 2015 when it published a Notice of Intent to kick off the public part of
the review process.


Muskegon County is the home to the Little River Band’s largest population base.
Muskegon is one of the Tribe’s service areas and the Tribe maintains governmental
offices in Muskegon to serve its members.


“The opening of a casino in Fruitport Township will enable the Tribe to provide housing,
health care, education and other services to our elders and youth, particularly those
based in Muskegon County, while providing more than 1,175 jobs and a positive
economic impact for the local community,” said Tribal Council Speaker Joseph Riley II.
“The publishing of the Draft EIS is usually the longest step in the approval process so
we couldn’t be more pleased that the BIA is moving the process forward.”



The Little River Band’s proposed gaming and economic development project would


• Approximately 69,000 square feet of gaming floor space
• 1,700 slot machines
• 35 table games
• 220-­room hotel
• Conference and meeting room space
• Dining and entertainment options


The proposed casino has received wide support from the community including support
from Fruitport Township, Fruitport Community Schools, Muskegon County, West
Michigan trade unions, and local businesses. Both Fruitport Township and Muskegon
County reaffirmed support for the Tribe’s Muskegon casino project with resolutions of


The Little River Band has signed a Municipal Services Agreement with Muskegon
County and Fruitport Township that consists of the Tribe making payments for public
safety, sanitary sewer, public water construction and other services.
The BIA published the notice of the DEIS hearing in a local newspaper and online at


LRBOI purchased former Great Lakes Downs racetrack 2008
LRBOI filed application 2.2015
Notice of Intent Scoping Hearing 10.2015
Scoping Hearing Report 2.2016
Draft EIS Published 11.23.18
Public hearing on DEIS 12.12.18
BIA Deadline for Written comments 1.7.19
For further information, contact Tom Shields,
M: 517-­449-­9810, W: 517-­372-­4400 #230, H: 517-­669-­1873

Michigan Environmental Hall of Fame Seeks Nominations for 2019

The Michigan Environmental Hall of Fame is seeking nominations for its class of 2019.  There are six categories; Non-Profit Organizations, Colleges/Schools, Environmental Projects, Business/Industry, Individuals, Legacy Circle and Sunrise Youth Award.


This is the eighth  year for the Michigan Environmental Hall of Fame that has inducted 45  individuals and organizations into the Hall, including former Gov. William Milliken, Howard Tanner, Peter Wege, Mayville Elementary School, the Ruddiman Creek Project, and the Wolves & Moose of Isle Royale are among them. We are looking for nominations for the 2019 class.


These are people or organizations that have a long history of environmental stewardship.  Nomination forms are available on the web site,


             The Michigan Environmental Hall of Fame will induct the class of 2019 on May 15, 2019 at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum at 7:00 PM in Grand Rapids.  Nomination applications are due February 8, 2019.



#GivingTuesday – Turning the Page on Early Childhood Literacy: Story Time with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

(MUSKEGON & OCEANA, MI) On Tuesday, November 27, 2018, charities, families, businesses, community centers and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate and encourage giving. United Way of the Lakeshore is pleased to announce that the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is its focus for #GivingTuesday. The aim is to enrich the reading proficiency of children across our Lakeshore communities. NICHOLS has pledged a $35,000 match through the United Way of the Lakeshore, to the individual gifts that support the Dolly Parton Imagination Library.



Christine Robere, President & CEO, United Way of the Lakeshore, said, “All funds raised by United Way of the Lakeshore on Giving Tuesday  will go to support Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in our community. With the generous matching funds by NICHOLS and many individual donors, we are able to provide children under five who live in our Lakeshore community with an age appropriate book mailed to them each month.”  Robere added, “Already, over 4,000 early learners are receiving their books thanks to the generosity of NICHOLS and so many individual donors in our area.” Robere said, “Books are provided for by the Dolly Parton Foundation, but that the annual cost of shipping and handling  per child is $25 annually, or $125 for the 5 year duration for the program.



“My 3 year old and my 2 year old love being introduced to new authors. We like to read the bilingual books together, and they both are so excited when they get new books in the mail” said Lindsay, a Ravenna Community Member. Jess a member of the Muskegon Heights Community added, “I heard about Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library through the local libraries and my cousin at Catholic Charities. I love the program because they are high quality books. They are creative, bilingual and allow integrated play.”



To celebrate the generosity of our communities and to spotlight Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, United Way of the Lakeshore has partnered with Read Early Read Often and the Great Start Collaborative to host a Story Time. Children and their families can come to the United Way located on 31 E Clay Ave, to listen to Dolly Parton books, enjoy crafts, participate in fun-filled learning actives, and see Mr. and Mrs. Claus! This event is free to the community and will be held on Tuesday, November 27th from 10:30 AM – 1:30 PM. If you plan on attending, please RSVP by calling 231-332-4006 or emailing the United Way at



If you would like to help support the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in honor of #GivingTuesday Donate securely fund by cell phone: text GIVETUESDAY to 41444 or go to:

Sustainable Muskegon Hosting WWTP Tour Tuesday

MUSKEGON – November 20, 2018 – West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum, Muskegon Area Sustainability Coalition and County of Muskegon will host a luncheon and tour of the Muskegon County Wastewater Management System on Tuesday, November 27 from 12 to 1:30 pm.


Featured speaker Steve Barnard, Safety and Technical Coordinator for the Muskegon County Wastewater Management System, will discuss the history of the treatment plant, current initiatives, and the services available through the system. Lunch will be provided prior to the tour. The plant uses a land treatment process encompassing 11,000 acres of aeration and settling basins, storage lagoons, and irrigated cropland; the Wastewater Management System is so massive it has been viewed by orbiting NASA astronauts.


The system produces energy using a hydroelectric plant, and the on-site county landfill pumps methane gas 6.5 miles to local industries for direct burning. It is also a designated “Energy Ready” site with ongoing efforts to site solar energy operations.


Recreational options are also available on the site, such as birdwatching and hiking. An 11,000 acre portion of the property has been set aside for the future data center development as the MI Tech Hub.


The event is the first Sustainable Muskegon Forum of the 2018-2019 season, a program series supported in part by the Environmental Endowment Fund of the Community Foundation of Muskegon County.


Cost to attend is $10 if paid online. Learn more and register at



Daniel Schoonmaker

Executive Director

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum

616.308.4761 (cell)

616.422.7963 (Grand Rapids)

269.588.0222 (St. Joseph)

Muskegon County Calendar of Events 11/19/18 – 11/26/18

Click here to view events