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.

Day One of the Symposium, held at the Peabody Hotel, had a legal focus with panel discussions on topics covering criminal justice, voting rights, persistent poverty and 21st century activism.  Featured panelists included Mark Osler, Toussaint Losier, Roy Austin, Tracey Maclin, Dayna Matthew, Debo Adegbile, Rick Hasen, Pamala Karlan, Sherrilyn Ifill, Dorothy Brown, Tomiko Brown-Nagin, Dorothy Roberts, Claude Steele, Beverly Tatum, and Cornell Brooks.

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.

Click for info on April 2 Symposium panels.






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. All panel discussions for Day Two of the Symposium were held at the University of Memphis Rose Theatre.


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

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.

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


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.