Since 1986, the first year of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, Washington State University has held an annual program to mark Dr. King’s birthday. Our community celebrations consist of an arts showcase, the presentation of the Distinguished Service Award winners, and a keynote speech. In the past, the event has featured renowned keynote speakers including Martin Luther King III, Arun Gandhi, Benjamin Hooks, Morris Dees, Yolanda King, Cornel West, Diane Nash, Michael Eric Dyson, and Angela Davis.
WSU MLK Programs History
Keynote Speaker: Rev. Jerry Ramsey III of Bible Way Church of God in Christ in Everett, Washington
Keynote Speaker: Rev. Calvin Butts III, executive minister of New York City’s Abyssinian Baptist Church
Keynote Speaker: Judge Norma Smith-Huggins, first black woman judge in King County superior court
Keynote Speaker: Rev. Samuel D. Proctor, pastor emeritus of Abyssinian Baptist Church in NYC
Rev. Happy Watkins recited the 'I Have a Dream' speech.
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Maxine Mimms, founder of the Tacoma branch of Evergreen State College
Keynote Speaker: Alma Adams, North Carolina artist, educator, and civic leader, director of humanities division and chair of visual art and humane studies at Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Julia Hare, Educational Psychologist and Motivational Specialist from San Francisco, CA
Keynote Speaker: Martin Luther King III, son of MLK Jr., human rights advocate, community activist, and political leader
Keynote Speaker: Patricia Russell-McCloud, attorney and motivational speaker (former chief of complaints branch at Federal Communications Commission
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Frank Hale, Jr, former president of Oakwood College, AL. Faculty at Ohio State, former Vice provost for Minority Affairs and social assistant to president at Ohio St.
Keynote Speaker: Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mohandas K. “Mahatma” Gandhi, co-director and co-founder of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence in Memphis, TN
Keynote Speaker: Patricia Russell-McCloud, attorney and motivational speaker, former chief of complaints branch at Federal Communications Commission
Keynote Speaker: Dorothy Cotton, former education director for the SCLC
Keynote Speaker: Benjamin Hooks, former NAACP executive director and King’s friend
Keynote Speaker: Morris Dees, founder of Southern Poverty Law Center
Keynote Speaker: Carl Mack, President of the Seattle chapter of the NAACP
Keynote Speaker: Yolanda King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr.
Keynote Speaker: Cornel West, activist and scholar
Keynote Speaker: Leonard Pitts Jr., Pulitzer Prize winner
Keynote Speaker: Eyes on the Prize documentarian
Keynote Speaker: Henry Averhart, WSU doctoral student
Keynote Speaker: Robert Bauman, Associate Professor, History, WSU Tri-Cities
Keynote speaker: President Elson S. Floyd
Keynote Speaker: Aaron Oforlea, WSU Assistant Professor, English Department
Keynote Speaker: David J. Leonard, WSU Associate Professor/Chair Critical Culture, Gender, and Race Studies
Keynote Speaker: Diane Nash, 1960s civil rights activist and Michael Eric Dyson, Georgetown sociology professor and media icon
Keynote Speaker: Angela Y. Davis, scholar and activist
Keynote Speaker: Jasiri X, community activist, social commentator and hip hop artist
Keynote Speaker: Charlene A. Carruthers, a black, queer feminist community organizer and writer
Keynote Speaker: Shaun King, writer, journalist, activist and social entrepreneur
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, New York Times bestselling author, professor, and founding director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University
Keynote Speaker: W. Kamau Bell, sociopolitical comedian, author, and director
Keynote Speakers: Bree Newsome Bass, American filmmaker, speaker, and activist from Charlotte, NC
Dr. Anthony Jack, Harvard scholar, researcher, and author of 'The Privileged Poor: How Colleges are Failing Disadvantaged Students (2019)'
Ijeoma Oluo, Seattle-based writer, speaker, and Internet Yeller, author of the New York Times Best-Seller, 'So You want to Talk about Race (2018)' and 'Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male Power (2020)'
Jamie Margolin, 19-year-old environmental activist, organizer, author, director, and screenwriter