Utah Valley University announces Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Week Speakers

Utah Valley University (UVU) announced today that David Kwabena Wilson and Anthony Ray Hinton will speak on Jan. 19 at 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. respectively in the Grand Ballroom, Sorensen Student Center as part of the University’s 29th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Week.

The 2023 commemoration theme is “Peace, Education, and Healthcare,” and will include student- and staff-led programming, breakout sessions, and six service projects. The speaker events are open to the public and will be livestreamed for those who cannot attend. Visit uvu.edu/inclusion/mlk/ for more event information.

On paper, the two keynote speakers are very different, and committee organizers intended this dichotomy. “It’s important to have both stories, so that we can get a more holistic view of the topics of King’s messages and his legacy as we commemorate it,” said Priscilla Villasenor-Navarro, a UVU student, presidential intern, and member of the UVU Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Committee.

“Dr. Wilson was the perfect fit with the educational aspect of our theme, and [Hinton] really aligned with the peace theme, and his story about being incarcerated and talking about the high incarceration rate within the Black community, especially with Black men, fits really well with peace.”

Wilson is president of Morgan State University and has worked hard to make education a reality, specifically for young people of color. Morgan State, a “historically Black” research university, is located in Baltimore, Maryland, and was established to educate freed African American slaves in the 1860s. In his time there, Wilson has increased freshmen retention and the number of scholarships and degree programs offered.

Hinton, author of the book “The Sun Does Shine,” was convicted of two counts of capital murder and served 28 years in prison before being exonerated. He believes that racism is what led to his incarceration and points out that the judge, jury, prosecutors, and public defender in his case were all white. Racism has been a major issue in his life and continues to this day.

Visit uvu.edu/inclusion/mlk/ for more information about UVU’s MLK commemoration speakers and events.