Mark Your Calendars

Date: Wednesday, March 8, 2023
Time: 5-8 p.m.
Location: State Historical Society of Missouri
                  605 Elm Street, Columbia, MO 65201

Limited in-person seating, reserve your free ticket.

Unable to join us in person. Watch the keynote livestream.

2023 Keynote Speaker: Clayborne Carson, PhD

Dr. Claiborne Carson by Michael Colopy

The University of Missouri is pleased to announce Clayborne Carson as the 2023 keynote speaker for the annual MLK Day of Celebration. 

Carson, the Martin Luther King Jr. Centennial Professor Emeritus of History at Stanford University, has devoted most of his professional life to the study of King and the movements he inspired. 

In 1985, Coretta Scott King selected Carson to edit and publish her late husband’s speeches, sermons, correspondence, publications and unpublished writings. Carson has also published numerous other books and articles about King. 

In 2005, Carson founded Stanford’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute to provide King-related educational resources to an online global audience. After his retirement from the King Institute, Carson founded the World House Project to continue his educational activities intended to realize King’s vision of a global community in which all people can “learn somehow to live with each other in peace.” 

2023 Theme

Looking Back to Move Forward

“If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl, but by all means, keep moving!” –  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

2023 Celebration

Reception and Artist Showcase:
5–6 p.m.

Reception featuring an art exhibit by University of Missouri student organization Mizzou Black Creatives is free and open to the public, in-person only.

Keynote presentation:
6:30 p.m.

  1. Opening Remarks
  2. Musical Performance – Columbia Community Gospel Choir
  3. Community Award presentation
  4. Keynote by Clayborne Carson, PhD.
  5. Moderated Q & A 
  6. Closing Remarks

MLK Community Award Details

Established in 2007, the University of Missouri Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Award recognizes and affirms those in the Columbia community who have made significant tangible contributions in the areas of race relations, social justice and human rights. 

Each year, the planning committee selects a Boone County resident or group to receive this award in recognition of extraordinary leadership and inspiration in furthering the goal of achieving greater cultural and ethnic diversity in the community. The award will be presented during the annual campus celebration commemorating Dr. King each January. 


Those who have exhibited extraordinary leadership in one or more of the following areas are eligible for this award: 

  • Both individuals and advocacy groups may be nominated, but nominees must be residents of Columbia or Boone County. 
  • Nominees must not include MU faculty and staff. 
  • Nominees should be an individual who or organization that has made significant contributions in building a sense of unity among Columbia citizens. 
  • Nominees must work in the area of promotion and developing a mutual respect, understanding and appreciation for the cultural and ethnic diversity within our local and extended community (outside the university academic community). 
  • Nominees should have demonstrated ability in building local communities through various activities and programs that help to revitalize areas and make Columbia a more wholesome and desirable place for living, learning and loving. 
  • Nominees should have been personally or corporately involved in making tangible, visible, and meaningful contributions to the advancement of race relations, social justice, and/or human rights causes. 
  • In recognizing the personal commitment and example that Dr. King stressed and discussed in his speeches for academic achievement, nominees should have demonstrated a personal commitment to scholarship and/or attainment of educational goals despite significant barriers or obstacles (learning disabilities, poverty, etc.). Dr. King was known to challenge his followers to pursue excellence through a commitment to life-long learning. This dream still exists and nominees should demonstrate this desire. 
  • Nominees should demonstrate specific accomplishments in reducing barriers that have hindered under served groups from attaining academic excellence. Specific activities or accomplishments could include, but are not limited to, mentoring, tutoring, innovative pre-school programs, highly effective pre-college programs, provision of scholarships, etc. Special consideration will be given to the nominees who provide children access to the tools of technology and incorporate effective parental involvement. 

The heart of the award is to recognize individuals who give their time and service freely to those in need without question, often without recognition. This award seeks to honor those who promote Dr. King’s legacy and attempt to make a difference in the lives of others through selfless service. Winners should stand as role models for others to emulate.  

Past MLK Award Winners 

  • Eliot Battle 
  • Almeta Crayton 
  • Reverend Raymond Hayes 
  • Pamela Ingram 
  • Michael Middleton 
  • Minority Men’s Network 
  • West Boulevard Elementary School 
  • Nora Stewart Memorial Nursery School 
  • Camren D. Cross 
  • Columbia African American Association 
  • BOLD (Black + Brown Opportunity Leadership Development) Academy 
  • City of Refuge 
  • Worley Street Roundtable 
  • Jabberwocky Studios 

MLK Planning Committee

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. commemorative committee is composed of University of Missouri faculty, staff, undergraduate and graduate students, and Columbia community representatives. We seek to engage our students, campus and greater community in interaction that is positive, educational and entertaining. For further inquiries, please email us at