Featured Speaker

Headshot of Dr. Gwendolyn Elizabeth Boyd in a white jacket and white pearl necklace

Dr. Gwendolyn Elizabeth Boyd

7-8:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020
Missouri Theatre
203 S. Ninth St., Columbia, MO 65211

Get your free tickets through Eventbrite.

Suggested parking: Hitt St. Parking Structure (free after 6 p.m.)

Dr. Gwendolyn Elizabeth Boyd, a prolific motivational speaker and nationally recognized champion of education, will speak on the the relevance and critical need for the increased representation of women and people of color in the high-demand STEM fields.

Dr. Boyd is a graduate of Alabama State University with a professional career spanning three decades at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. She was the first African American woman to earn an MS degree in Mechanical Engineering from Yale, and she made history again in 2014 when she returned to her alma mater to become ASU’s first female president.

In 2009, Dr. Boyd was nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as a trustee to the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence Foundation. She later served on the President’s Advisory Commission on Education Excellence for African Americans in 2014.

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MU Celebrates MLK flyer: 7 p.m. Tuesday, January 23, 2020 at Jesse Auditorium featuring Dr. Gwendolyn Elizabeth Boyd. Join us for our annual event with the theme STEAM at Midnight: King's Vision for Science in the Social Order

STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) at Midnight: King’s Vision for Science in the Social Order.

Our 2020 theme is drawn from one of King’s lesser-known speeches, A Knock at Midnight. In part, this speech examined the possibilities and limitations of science as a tool for advancing the beloved community. King argued that without robust conceptions of love and justice, even the most brilliant scientists will struggle through a moral midnight. A passage of note:

“When confronted by midnight in the social order we have in the past turned to science for help. And little wonder! On so many occasions science has saved us. When we were in the midnight of physical limitation and material inconvenience, science lifted us to the bright morning of physical and material comfort. When we were in the midnight of crippling ignorance and superstition, science brought us to the daybreak of the free and open mind. When we were in the midnight of dread plagues and diseases, science, through surgery, sanitation, and the wonder drugs, ushered in the bright day of physical health, thereby prolonging our lives and making for greater security and physical well-being. How naturally we turn to science in a day when the problems of the world are so ghastly and ominous.

“But alas! science cannot now rescue us, for even the scientist is lost in the terrible midnight of our age. Indeed, science gave us the very instruments that threaten to bring universal suicide. So modern man faces a dreary and frightening midnight in the social order.”

This year we are challenging the Mizzou community to interrogate how we define and deploy STEAM knowledge to improve the social order. We invite our community to ask these and other questions: What social problems does STEAM help us to address? In what was has STEAM been used to exclude or abuse certain communities? What perspectives are needed in conversations about STEAM access and representation? What is the role of historical fiction, science fiction and documentary film in developing popular conceptions of STEAM and justice?



Dr. Terrell Morton wearing a blazer and ball hat with the brim up announcing results from the inaugural teach-in at a lectern with a gold MU banner on it..
MU Celebrates MLK committee member Dr. Terrell Morton announces results from the inaugural teach-in before the 2019 featured speaker.

Last year’s inaugural teach-in resulted in over 8,000 minutes of student interaction devoted to thinking about Dr. King as a theologian, philosopher, politician and as an important point of reference for understanding civil rights, human rights, race and social change!

In 2020, instructors, lecturers, coaches and faculty are again invited to pledge minutes of teaching time during the months of November, December, January, February and March with a goal of clocking a total of 1,968 minutes per college, unit or division.

In the spirit of collaborative teaching, consider sharing minutes. Work across classrooms, departments and disciplines to invite speakers, watch documentaries, start book clubs, take field trips, read speeches. There is no specified format for participation, and we encourage innovation in teaching and pedagogy.

MLK Award

Members of the BOLD Academy surround 2019 Speaker Bree Newsome.
Members of the 2019 MLK Award recipient, BOLD Academy, surround 2019 Speaker Bree Newsome.

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.

The deadline to apply is 11:59 p.m. Dec. 1, 2019!


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



The planning committee invites you to help sponsor our annual event. The program is free and open to all MU campus and community members as an annual celebration and commemoration of the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The program is intended to engage our community in interaction that is positive, educational and entertaining. This event includes the presentation of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Award and a featured nationally recognized speaker.

Sponsors will be recognized in event materials which are distributed throughout the university and Columbia community. Benefactors are also acknowledged at the event, in the published program, and on our website. Please consider sharing your support by contributing funds to this annual event.

Please contact us at diversity@missouri.edu for sponsorship opportunities!

MLK Planning Committee

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. commemorative committee is comprised 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.


2019 MU Celebrates MLK Committee members pose with featured speaker Bree Newsome.
2019 MU Celebrates MLK Committee members pose with featured speaker Bree Newsome.