Celebrating MLK

A nationally known educator, author and poet will deliver the keynote address for a series of events celebrating the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and reflecting on the ongoing struggle for full equality in the United States.

A public intellectual who blends art and activism, Clint Smith will be the featured speaker at the college’s MLK Legacy Celebration at 7 p.m. on Thursday, February 25.

The lecture, which will take place in Cole Memorial Chapel, is part of a series of events sponsored by the Black Students Association and the Council on Inclusion and Diversity to commemorate King’s accomplishments and to continue the effort to secure full civil rights for all citizens.

“Clint Smith’s visit to campus should be a highlight of the spring semester and will foster continuing dialogue around many of the issues that we have been discussing on campus,” President Hanno said in announcing the event.

As a poet and essayist, Smith is a 2014 National Poetry Slam champion, an Individual World Poetry Slam finalist, and he has written for The New Yorker, The Guardian, and The American Literary Review. His two TED Talks, The Danger of Silence and How to Raise a Black Son in America, collectively have been viewed more than 4 million times.

Smith is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow with research interests that include mass incarceration, race, and inequality. Previously, he taught high school English in Prince George’s County, Maryland where, was named the 2013 Christine D. Sarbanes Teacher of the Year by the Maryland Humanities Council.

Following the address, Smith will engage in an armchair discussion with the audience, moderated by Gabe Amo ‘10, who currently serves as the director of public engagement for Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo. The event will conclude with a reception in the Chapel Basement.

Before Smith’s lecture, the college will announce the inaugural honorees of the MLK Legacy Award, which is intended to recognize outstanding contributions to promoting equality and an inclusive spirit in the Wheaton community. One student and one faculty or staff member will receive the award. honor two members of the Wheaton community (one student and one faculty or staff member) with this award. The presentation will be made at the campus-wide event held that evening at 7 p.m. in the chapel.

The MLK Legacy Celebration event will kick off earlier in the day with the Creative Expressions Showcase, which will be open in Emerson Dining Hall throughout the day. Creative student works that reflect on King’s philosophy and the principles of equity, justice or peace will be on display throughout the day, and a reception with the contest entrants will be held from 4 to 5 p.m.