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Martin Luther King Program

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.

MLK Program Timeline

2021

34th Annual MLK Community Celebration

2020

33rd Annual MLK Community Celebration

Keynote Speaker: W. Kamau Bell, sociopolitical comedian, author, and director 

2019

32nd Annual MLK Community Celebration

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

2018

31st Annual MLK Community Celebration

Keynote Speaker: Shaun King, writer, journalist, activist and social entrepreneur

2017

30th Annual MLK Community Celebration

Keynote Speaker:  Charlene A. Carruthers, a black, queer feminist community organizer and writer

2016

29th Annual MLK Community Celebration

Keynote Speaker: Jasiri X, community activist, social commentator and hip hop artist

2015

28th Annual MLK Community Celebration

Keynote Speaker: Angela Y. Davis, scholar and activist

2014

27th Annual MLK Community Celebration

Keynote Speaker: Diane Nash, 1960s civil rights activist and Michael Eric Dyson, Georgetown sociology professor and media icon

2013

26th Annual MLK Community Celebration

Keynote Speaker: David J. Leonard, WSU Associate Professor/Chair Critical Culture, Gender, and Race Studies

2012

25th Annual MLK Community Celebration

Keynote Speaker: Aaron Oforlea, WSU Assistant Professor, English Department

2011

24th Annual MLK Community Celebration

Keynote speaker: President Elson S. Floyd

2010

23rd Annual MLK Community Celebration

Keynote Speaker: Robert Bauman, Associate Professor, History, WSU Tri-Cities

2009

22nd Annual MLK Community Celebration

Keynote Speaker: Henry Averhart, WSU doctoral student

2008

21st Annual MLK Community Celebration

Keynote Speaker: Eyes on the Prize documentarian

2007

20th Annual MLK Community Celebration

Keynote Speaker: Leonard Pitts Jr., Pulitzer Prize winner

2006

19th Annual MLK Community Celebration

Keynote Speaker: Cornel West, activist and scholar

2005

18th Annual MLK Community Celebration

Keynote Speaker: Yolanda King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr.

2004

17th Annual MLK Community Celebration

Keynote Speaker: Carl Mack, President of the Seattle chapter of the NAACP

2003

16th Annual MLK Community Celebration

No information

2002

15th Annual MLK Community Celebration

Keynote Speaker: Morris Dees, founder of Southern Poverty Law Center

2001

14th Annual MLK Community Celebration

Keynote Speaker: Benjamin Hooks, former NAACP executive director and King’s friend

2000

13th Annual MLK Community Celebration

Keynote Speaker: Dorothy Cotton, former education director for the SCLC

1999

12th Annual MLK Community Celebration

Keynote Speaker: Patricia Russell-McCloud, attorney and motivational speaker, former chief of complaints branch at Federal Communications Commission

1998

11th Annual MLK Community Celebration

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

1997

10th Annual MLK Community Celebration

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.

1996

9th Annual MLK Community Celebration

Keynote Speaker: Patricia Russell-McCloud, attorney and motivational speaker (former chief of complaints branch at Federal Communications Commission

1995

8th Annual MLK Community Celebration

Keynote Speaker: Martin Luther King III, son of MLK Jr., human rights advocate, community activist, and political leader

1994

7th Annual MLK Community Celebration

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Julia Hare, Educational Psychologist and Motivational Specialist from San Francisco, CA

1993

6th Annual MLK Community Celebration

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

1992

5th Annual MLK Community Celebration

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Maxine Mimms, founder of the Tacoma branch of Evergreen State College

1991

4th Annual MLK Community Celebration

Keynote Speaker: Rev. Samuel D. Proctor, pastor emeritus of Abyssinian Baptist Church in NYC

Rev. Happy Watkins recited the I Have a Dream speech

1990

3rd Annual MLK Community Celebration

Keynote Speaker: Judge Norma Smith-Huggins, first black woman judge in King County superior court

 1989

2nd Annual MLK

Keynote Speaker: Rev. Calvin Butts III, executive minister of New York City’s Abyssinian Baptist Church

1988

1st Annual MLK Community Celebration

Keynote Speaker: Rev. Jerry Ramsey III of Bible Way Church of God in Christ in Everett,

Washington