Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

University's 27th MLK Symposium honors 'I Have a Dream' speech

U-M's 27th annual MLK Symposium, one of the top national observances of the life of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., will include Southern Poverty Law Center co-founder and chief trial counsel Morris Dees, King speechwriter Clarence B. Jones, and activist Angela Davis, known internationally for her work to combat oppression.

  Morris Dees  Clarence Jones

The event theme is 50 Years Later: (R)Evolution of MLK. It celebrates the 50th anniversary of King's "I Have a Dream" speech, which was delivered in Washington, D.C., at the culmination of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

The theme will guide an estimated 40-50 events presented as part of the symposium throughout January.

U-M units planning MLK-related activities in January are urged to register their events at by Nov. 16, to be included in the 2013 MLK Symposium commemorative booklet. Information submitted later will be posted only on the website.

"It's amazing that the U-M community has kept the spirit of Dr. King's dream, which is our collective dream, alive and well on our campus. This effort reflects a tremendous amount of work by faculty, students, staff and administrators, and more important, a tremendous commitment to advancing the principles for which Dr. King stood," says John Matlock, associate vice provost and executive director of the Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives (OAMI).

"As we observe the 50th year of Dr. King's 'I Have a Dream' speech that he gave at the nation's capital, it also gives us the opportunity to pause and ask ourselves where are we today — 50 years later. I think that we can all agree that while much has been accomplished since 1963, we still have much to do, and the big question is, how do we get there?" Matlock says.

Dees will deliver the Keynote Memorial Lecture at 10 a.m. Jan. 21, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, at Hill Auditorium. Dees co-founded the SPLC in 1971 after winning a series of groundbreaking civil rights cases. In recent years, he has successfully taken on white supremacist hate groups. He has received more than 20 honorary degrees and numerous awards and was named one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America by the National Law Journal in 2006.

"We were really looking for a speaker who was active in the civil rights movement then, and still active today. In more recent years, he's become very well known for crippling some of the hate groups in America; the KKK and some Nazi groups," says Lumas Helaire, MLK Symposium coordinator and OAMI assistant director.

Other prominent speakers and events scheduled for the symposium include:

• Clarence B. Jones, adviser and speechwriter for King from 1960-April 4, 1968, with "Behind the Dream: The Making of the Speech that Transformed a Nation." It is to be presented at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 21 in the Stephen M. Ross School of Business, Blau Auditorium. His awards include a White House Letter of Commendation for his 1963 work in Birmingham, Ala.

  Steve Robbins

• The Business and Finance MLK Day Convocation with Steve L. Robbins, from 1-3 p.m. Jan. 21 at Rackham Auditorium. A Vietnamese immigrant who rose from poverty, discrimination and the tough streets of Los Angeles, Robbins presents perspectives on issues of leadership, inclusion and innovation, and the power of caring.

• "From Cass Corridor to the World: A Tribute to Detroit's Musical Golden Age" at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 21 at Hill Auditorium. Jazz pianist and Detroit native Geri Allen serves as music director with the D3 trio, with Robert Hurst on bass, Karriem Riggins on drums, and Marcus Belgrave on trumpet, with guest Detroit artists to be announced.

• "Impediments to the Dream: The Prison Industrial Complex and the Dream," with activist Angela Davis, Distinguished Professor Emerita from the University of California, Santa Cruz. The presentation, from 2-4 p.m. in the Michigan Union Rogel Ballroom, will be streamed remotely in the Union Pendleton Room, the Hatcher Graduate Library Gallery, the Duderstadt Center Conference Room 1180, and the Detroit Center. Davis received national attention after being removed from her UCLA teaching position as a result of her social activism and membership in the Communist Party.