The 2016 Martin Luther King, Jr., Symposium

WP Banner Teju Cole sans date

Presented by:


TO HONOR Dr. King’s Achievement and Legacy
TO EXTEND the Conversation on Civil Rights
TO PROMOTE Change and Progress In Our City

Monday, January 18, 7-8:45 pm, at the City Performance Hall in the Dallas Arts District.

The Dallas Institute presented the 11th annual MLK Symposium: “Martin Luther King, Jr., and Civil Rights in America: From Birmingham to Charleston.” As in years past, the Symposium emphasized Dr. King’s impact on civil rights in America and abroad. This year, the program not only discussed America’s progress in ensuring equality under the law and civil rights for all citizens, but it  also took an open and honest look at the challenges that remain, especially in light of events since the killing of Trayvon Martin in 2012.

As part of the opening remarks, BaylorScott&White’s Chief Mission & Ministry Officer, Mark Grace, spoke. Read his comments here.

Musical and Dramatic Performances by Dallas artists, curated by Public City
BC Workshop will celebrate local heroes in the lobby of the City Performance Hall from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm.
Keynote Presentation by Teju Cole
Panel Discussion with Teju Cole and three Dallas citizens

“Beautiful, subtle, and, finally, original.” The New Yorker

(photo credit: Teju Cole)
(photo credit: Teju Cole)

Teju Cole is in the forefront of the rising young African-Americans whose voices will take us in to a new era of Civil Rights and racial justice. Born in the US in 1975 to Nigerian parents, Teju Cole is a writer, art historian, and photographer. He was raised in Nigeria, currently lives in Brooklyn, and teaches literature and art history at Bard College, where he is Distinguished Writer in Residence and Achebe Fellow. He is the author of two works of fiction: a novella, Every Day is for the Thief, which was named a Book of the Year by the New York Times; and a novel, Open City, which won the PEN/Hemmingway Award. He is also the photography critic for the New York Times.

“Martin Luther King, Jr., and Civil Rights in America: From Birmingham to Charleston.”

In 1963, Dr. King was jailed for protesting the treatment of black lives in Birmingham, Alabama. From his cell, he wrote a letter that became a seminal document in the civil rights movement, calling for action against the racial inequality rampant throughout the country. “Nonviolent direct action,” he wrote, “seeks to create such a crisis and establish such creative tension that a community that has consistently refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue.”

Given the increase in racial violence since Trayvon Martin’s death in 2012 and the rise of #BlackLivesMatter, we must now ponder how we are to move forward while preserving Dr. King’s legacy.

What is the current state of racial and civil equality in America, and what roles do all of us—from politician to citizen—play? How has our society changed, from Birmingham in 1963 to Charleston in 2015? What has been gained, what lost—and how much further do we have to go?

…about critical turning points in our history and who made them happen.
…to uphold the ideals forged from the vision and sacrifice of our civil rights heroes.
…a future where our twin aspirations of liberty and equality are freely available to all.

With Support from:

OCA color logo JPG OTSL Charities hi-res logo
Oncor logo 2010_HTX_Logo_200_textresizeCS2
Mr. and Mrs. John R. Castle, Jr.  Nancy Cain Marcus
ProudPartner_of_DFR_2 dtc

This program was made possible in part by a grant from Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Developed with support from Scriptworks’ Seed Support Program.

About the Martin Luther King, Jr., Symposium

Nearly fifty years after his assassination in 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr., continues to exert a powerful influence on the way we think and act in matters of civil rights in America. His life and legacy have shaped us—and ought to do so still as we aspire to the noble ideal of true equality he championed for all U.S. citizens.

For ten years, the MLK Symposium has brought to Dallas a rich variety of voices offering insight and direction for the future, from “old lions” of the Civil Rights era working alongside Dr. King to contemporary figures who continue to pursue his “Dream.” In 2016, the Symposium will extend beyond last year’s focus on the “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and look at what kind of progress has been made in  American civil rights from Birmingham in the 1960s to Charleston today.

Previous symposia

The 2015 Martin Luther King, Jr., Symposium premiering The 67th Book of the Bible:

An original stage play from Jonathan Norton, directed by Derrick Sanders, and produced by Will Power.

Jonathan Norton
Playwright Jonathan Norton
Derrick Sanders
Director Derrick Sanders
Will Power
Producer Will Power

The 2014 Martin Luther King, Jr., Symposium featuring Touré

TV personality and cultural critic Touré.
TV personality and cultural critic Touré.

The 2013 Martin Luther King, Jr., Symposium featuring Ambassador Andrew Young

Andrew Young

In 2013, the Dallas Institute’s annual MLK Symposium addressed “The Role of the African American Church in the Civil Rights Movement,” featuring as keynote speaker one of the true heroes of the movement, Ambassador Andrew Young.

The 2012 Martin Luther King, Jr., Symposium featuring Isabel Wilkerson

Isabel Wilkerson
Isabel Wilkerson

“The World Dr. King Inherited & Changed” addressed an aspect of Dr. King’s legacy which is in danger of being forgotten: the social and cultural conditions that led to the Civil Rights struggles of the 1950’s and 1960’s.

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