MLK 50 Symposium: Where Do We Go From Here?

MLK50: Where Do We Go From Here? Symposium

April 2 & 3, 2018

MLK50 Symposium: Where Do We Go From Here?

April 2 & 3, 2018

The two-day MLK50 Symposium convened scholars, historians and thought leaders from across the country to present on the state of civil and human rights issues and racial and economic equity 50 years after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  The Symposium took place April 2-3, 2018, and culminated with a commemorative ceremony on April 4, 2018, of the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination at the historic Lorraine Motel.

The theme for the MLK50 Symposium is based on Dr. King’s final book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? Invited scholars, thought leaders, policy makers and practitioners shared their perspectives and research in a series of panel discussions related to the social justice platforms that Dr. King outlined.


Addressing policing in communities of color and contemporary penal policy, while grappling with the complex question of what policing and punishment should look like going forward. Panelists: Roy Austin Partner, Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis LLP, former Deputy Assistant to President Barack Obama for the Office of Urban Affairs, Justice & Opportunity; Toussaint Losier - Assistant Professor, University of Massachusetts - Amherst College of Humanities & Fine Arts, W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies; Tracey Maclin Professor of Law & Joseph Lipsitt Faculty Research Scholar, Boston University School of Law; Mark Osler Professor and Robert and Marion Short Distinguished Chair in Law, University of St. Thomas School of Law.

Watch the Criminal Justice session


Addresses current voting rights challenges and strategies for reform, whether through litigation, legislation or mobilization. Panelists: Debo Adegbile Partner, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP; Past Senior Counsel to the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and Director of Litigation and Acting President for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.; Richard Hasen Chancellor's Professor of Law and Political Science, University of California – Irvine School of Law; Sherrilyn Ifill President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.; Pamala Karlan Kenneth and Harle Montgomery Professor of Public Interest Law, Co-Director, Supreme Court Litigation Clinic, Stanford Law School.

Watch the Voting Rights session


Examines some of the contemporary areas where poverty impacts life chances for individuals.  Panelists: Dorothy Brown Professor of Law, Emory Law School; Dayna Matthew William L. Matheson and Robert M. Morgenthau Distinguished Professor of Law; F. Palmer Weber Research Professor of Civil Liberties and Human Rights, University of Virginia School of Law; Tomiko Brown-Nagin Daniel P.S. Paul Professor of Constitutional Law; Director, Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice; Co-Director, Program in Law and History, Harvard Law School; Professor of History, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University; Dorothy Roberts George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology, the Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights, University of Pennsylvania School of Law.

Watch the Confronting Persistent Poverty session


Examines shifts in the legal landscape, modern technology, and the understanding of more subtle manifestations of discrimination impact, advocacy and activism. Panelists: Cornell Brooks Former President of the NAACP, 2014-2017; Charles McKinney Neville Frierson Bryan Chair of Africana Studies; Associate Professor of History, Rhodes College; Claude Steele Professor of Psychology, Stanford University; Beverly Tatum President Emerita, Spelman College.

Watch the 21st Century Activism session


MLK50 Symposium, Day 1 Photo Gallery – April 2, 2018

Keynote Luncheon with Eric Holder

The Memphis Peabody Hotel

The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr., 82nd Attorney General of the United States (2009-2015), Partner, Covington & Burling LLP, was the keynote speaker for Day One at a ticketed luncheon at the Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis.


Symposium Keynote Luncheon with Eric Holder Photo Gallery

Memphis 50 Years Later, Marching Forward

470 University, Memphis, TN 38111
8:00AM – 3:30PM

Day Two of the Symposium was hosted by the National Civil Rights Museum at the University of Memphis' Rose Theatre and consisted of three panel discussions -- Memphis 50 Years Later, Marching Forward; Poverty & Economic Equity: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow; and The Promise of Education -- and a ticketed luncheon.

Michele Norris, former host of the National Public Radio evening news program "All Things Considered," moderated the discussions, and panelists included Dr. Julianne Malveaux, Dr. Michael Honey, Dr. Charles McKinney, James Johnson, Dr. John King Jr., Dorian Warren, Dr. Walter Kimbrough, Dr. Randall Robinson, Dorsey Hopson, and Karen Harrell.


Examined the environment in 1968 for organized labor in Memphis, providing the audience with an understanding of what led to the 1968 strike. Discussion also included the current state of labor in Memphis and the environmental trends that will influence the labor market in the future.  Panelists: Michael K. Honey  Fred T. and Dorothy G. Haley Endowed Professor of the Humanities at the University of Washington, Tacoma; James H. Johnson Jr.  William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship and Director, Urban Investment Strategies Center at the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise, University of North Carolina; Wendi Thomas Editor and Founder, MLK50 Justice Through Journalism; Charles McKinney Neville Frierson Bryan Chair of Africana Studies and Associate Professor of History at Rhodes College.

Watch the Memphis Moving Forward session

PANEL #2: Poverty & Economic Equity: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow 

Explored the long-term effects of systemic economic disenfranchisement. Panelists discussed the historic roots and review the economic landscape for people of color in 2018.  Panelists:   Julianne Malveaux  Economist, Author and Founder of the nonprofit, Economic Education; Randall Robinson  Author and Professor of Law at Penn State Law School; Dorian Warren  President of the Center for Community Change Action (CCCA), Vice-President of the Center for Community Change (CCC), and Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute.

Watch the Poverty & Economic Equity session

PANEL #3: The Promise of Education

Panelists: Karen Harrell  Vice President of Early Childhood Services at Porter-Leath; Dorsey E. Hopson II  Shelby County Schools Superintendent; Walter M. Kimbrough  Author and President of Dillard University; John B. King Jr.  President and CEO of The Education Trust.

Watch the Promise of Education session


MLK50 Symposium Day 2 - April 3, 2018

Keynote Luncheon with Taylor Branch


Taylor Branch, American author and historian best known for his award-winning trilogy of books chronicling the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and much of the history of the American Civil Rights Movement, will be the keynote speaker for the ticketed luncheon to be held at the Holiday Inn hotel located on the University of Memphis campus.


Keynote Luncheon with Taylor Branch – April 3, 2018