Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium

MLK Symposium

Tue Jan. 25, 2022

Shannon Hall, Memorial Union

6:40 p.m.

Thank you, Gabe, for that kind introduction and for your leadership in bringing tonight’s keynote speaker to campus.

It’s wonderful to see you all here, and to welcome many more of you who are taking part virtually in what will be a truly memorable evening with Nikole Hannah-Jones as we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I also want to thank Keiva Aranda and Leotha Stanley for that beautiful performance.

And the sponsors of tonight’s event:

  • Student Affairs
  • Division of Diversity, Equity, and Educational Achievement
  • and the Wisconsin Union Theater

Thank you all.

Some of you know that Dr. King has a special place in our history here at UW­–Madison.

We were fortunate to host him on two occasions.

The first was in 1962, when he spoke at the Wisconsin Union Theater about non-violent resistance as a means to achieve social change.

Three years later, he returned to this campus to speak at the Stock Pavilion. He had recently won the Nobel Peace Prize, and he addressed a crowd of nearly 3,000 students and faculty on educational opportunity as the way to lift people out of poverty and move us closer to achieving true equality.

Dr. King was deeply interested in education.  When he was just 18 years old, he wrote an essay in which he argued that education is important not only for the individual, but for the larger community that benefits when knowledge is directed to improving people’s lives.

That’s what the work of tonight’s keynote speaker is all about.  I know that she will inspire lots of questions and thoughtful debate – as any renowned speaker at a world-class university should do.

Before we hear from Nikole Hannah-Jones, we will hear from the person who is at the heart of the effort to make UW a more diverse, inclusive, and welcoming place.

Dr. LaVar Charleston is uniquely well-suited to this work.  He is both deeply familiar with UW (as a student who earned two graduate degrees here … as a researcher … a clinical professor … and an administrator) and deeply familiar with the work of advancing equity.

  • He is a co-founder of Wisconsin’s Equity and Inclusion Laboratory at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research.
  • He is credited with more than 50 publications including a book he co-edited called Advancing Equity and Diversity in Student Affairs.
  • He sits on the Governor’s Advisory Council on Equity and Inclusion.
  • He was recently was named one of Wisconsin’s most influential Black leaders.
  • And seven months ago, he agreed to be our Deputy Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer.

Dr. Charleston brings a compelling vision for our future, and the ability to bring us along the path to achieve that vision.  He is a wonderful colleague.

Please join me in welcoming Dr. LaVar Charleston.