Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture Series

Beginning with the Rosa Parks Lecture on Social Justice and Activism in 2007 and annually since 2009 with the Martin Luther King Lecture Series, the Division of Diversity and Inclusion honors these individuals’ tremendous contributions to furthering civil rights by brining national thought leaders to campus, who provide insight and advocacy to current civil rights issues of education, economic and justice system inequalities. Our goal through this lecture series is to encourage UMKC students, staff, faculty and the Kansas City community to build upon the courageous, non-violent activism of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr., and to increase awareness of present day avenues to advocate for civil rights through free thought, action and scholarship. Pictured above: Moneta Sleet, Jr., ‘Rosa Parks, Dr. and Mrs. Abernathy, Dr. Ralph Bunche, and Dr. and Mrs. Martin Luther King, Jr. leading marchers into Montgomery,’ 1965, printed circa 1970. (© Johnson Publishing Company, LLC)

Dr. Harry Edwards Headshot2020: Dr. Harry Edwards

Register for the Lecture Here!

Dr. Harry Edwards will join us on January 21st, 2020 at 6 p.m. in Pierson Auditorium (inside the Atterbury Student Success Center).

Harry Edwards was born in St. Louis but grew up in East St. Louis, Illinois. After an outstanding career at East St. Louis High, he graduated in 1960 and was awarded an athletic scholarship to San Jose State University from which he graduated in 1964 with high honors. He subsequently was awarded a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship and a University Fellowship to Cornell University where he completed a M.A. and a Ph.D. in sociology. He was on the faculty of California at Berkeley from 1970 – 2001 and currently is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Sociology.

From 1992 through 2001, Dr. Edwards was a consulting inmate counselor at the San Francisco County Jail at San Bruno, California and periodically worked with inmate programs at California’s San Quentin State Prison. From 2001 through 2003, Dr. Edwards was Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation for the City of Oakland, California.

Dr. Edwards also has a long and storied history of activism focused upon developments at the interface of sport, race, and society. The combination of his experiences as an African-American, as an athlete in the 1960’s, and his training in the discipline of sociology led Harry to propose that by the late 1960’s America had become very complacent about the issue of race in sports. He ultimately called for a Black athlete boycott of the United States 1968 Olympic team in large part to dramatize the racial inequities and barriers confronting Blacks in sport and society. The movement resulted in demonstrations by Black athletes across the nation and ultimately at the Mexico City games – a movement commemorated by a 24-foot high statue on the campus at San Jose State University.

Years later, Dr. Edwards was to become a consultant on issues of diversity for all three major sports. He was hired by the Commissioner of Major League Baseball in 1987 to help with efforts to increase front office representation of minorities and women in baseball. He also was with the Golden State Warriors of the NBA from 1987 through 1995, specializing in player personnel recruitment and counseling. In 1986, he began work with the San Francisco 49ers in the area of player personnel counseling and programs. The programs and methods that he developed for handling player personnel issues were adopted by the entire NFL in 1992, as was the Minority Coaches’ Internship Program developed by he and Coach Bill Walsh to increase opportunities for minority coaches in the NFL.

Over his career, Harry Edwards has persisted in efforts to compel the sports establishment to confront and to effectively address issues pertaining to diversity and equal opportunity within its rank. Edwards, a scholar-activist who became spokesperson for what amounted to a revolution in sports, is now considered a leading authority on developments at the interface of race, sport, and society and was a pioneering scholar in the founding of the sociology of sport as an academic discipline.

Dr. Edwards has been a consultant with producers of sports related programs for numerous television and film productions in the United States and abroad over the last 40 years. He has received dozens of awards and honors, including several honorary doctorate degrees and has been honored by the University of Texas which has established the “Dr. Harry Edwards Lectures”, a permanent series of invited lectures on themes related to sport and society. He has written scores of articles and four books: The Struggle That Must Be, Sociology of Sports, Black Students, The Revolt of the Black Athlete.

What to know if you already have tickets:
-Doors will open for the event at 5 p.m.
-Complimentary parking will be available in the Cherry Street Parking Garage, levels 5 and 6
-Bring your e-mail confirmation to the event as your ticket. You can print it out, or show it to us on your phone at the door
-Students, please provide your email and student ID for entry
Andrew Gillham Headshot2019: Andrew Gillum

Andrew Gillum was the first black nominee for governor in Florida’s history. His leadership as Tallahassee mayor and gubernatorial candidate propelled him to a national profile. His historic 2018 run was “for anyone who has ever been told they don’t belong,” he said. “We deserve a seat at the table, too.”

Andrew Gillum will join us on February 7, 2019 at 6 p.m. in Pierson Auditorium (inside the Atterbury Student Success Center).

Please Note:
Due to popular demand, this lecture has reached the room’s capacity.

Also, despite the campus being closed, this lecture will go on as scheduled. If you have not purchased a ticket, you can proceed to Miller Nichols Learning Center Room 151 to livestream the lecture.


What to know if you already have tickets:
-Doors will open for the event at 5 p.m. We encourage those who attend to arrive as early as possible, as this is a sold out event.
-Complimentary parking will be available in the Cherry Street Parking Garage, levels 5 and 6
-Bring your e-mail confirmation to the event as your ticket. You can print it out, or show it to us on your phone at the door
-Students, please provide your email and student ID for entry
Dr. Joy DeGruy2018: Dr. Joy DeGruy

Dr. Joy DeGruy is a nationally and internationally renowned researcher, educator, author and presenter. Her seminars have been lauded as the most dynamic and inspirational currently being presented on the topics of culture, race relations and contemporary social issues. She is a tell-it-like-it-is ambassador for healing and a voice for those who’ve struggled in search of the past, and continue to struggle through the present.

Dr. DeGruy is the author of the groundbreaking book, Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome - America's Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing which addresses the residual impacts of trauma on African descendants in the Americas. Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome lays the groundwork for understanding how the past has influenced the present, and opens up the discussion of how we can use the strengths we have gained to heal.

See photos from this event here
MLK Lecture Marc Lamont Hill2017: Sister Souljah

Sister Souljah is a hip-hop generation best-selling author, activist, recording artist and film producer. A graduate of Rutgers University, she earned a degree in American History and African Studies. She also attended the Cornel University Advanced Placement Study program and studied abroad in Europe at the University of Salamanca.


Sister Souljah's Website
MLK Lecture Marc Lamont Hill2016: Marc Lamont Hill

Dr. Marc Lamont Hill is one of the leading hip-hop generation intellectuals in the country. His work, which covers topics such as culture, politics, and education, has appeared in numerous journals, magazines, books, and anthologies.

View the 8th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. lecture here.
Baldemar Nikki Giovanni2015: Nikki Giovanni

Distinguished poet, author and essayist, whose fought for civil rights and equality since her debut in the 1960s Black Arts Movement.

View the 7th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. lecture here.
Melissa Harris-Perry2014: Melissa Harris-Perry

Author, host of MSNBC’s “Melissa Harris-Perry”, founding director of the Anna Julia Cooper Center on Gender, Race, and Politics in the South.
Michael Eric Dyson2013: Michael Eric Dyson

Public intellectual, best-selling author, three time NAACP Award Winner.
Michelle Alexander2012: Michelle Alexander

Highly acclaimed civil rights lawyer and legal scholar, leader of the Driving While Black Campaign, and author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.
Henry Louis Gates Jr.2011: Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard.
Angela Davis2010: Angela Davis

Educator, author and advocate for social justice regarding poverty and race discrimination.
Cornel West2009: Cornel West

American philosopher, academic, activist, author, public intellectual and prominent member of the Democratic Socialists of America.

Rosa Parks Lecturers

Morris Dees2009: Morris Dees

Co-founder and Chief Trail Counsel for the Southern Poverty Law Center known for his innovative lawsuits that crippled white supremacist hate groups; Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Awardee from the National Education Association and The Salem Award recipient for Human Rights and Social Justice.
Jonathan Kozol2008: Jonathan Kozol

Advocate for educational equality known as the National Book Award-winning author of Savage Inequalities, Death at an Early Age, The Shame of the Nation, Amazing Grace, and Fire in the Ashes among others.
Lani Guinier2007: Lani Guinier

Civil rights theorist known for her publications suggesting various ideas to strengthen minority groups’ voting power, Bennett Boskey Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, and President Bill Clinton’s nominee for Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in 1993