MLK Symposium 2024, Featuring Anna Deavere Smith, Jan 31, 2024

MLK Symposium

The MLK Symposium celebrates the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. with a relevant and thought-provoking speaker who reflects his teachings in their work or life experience. The annual event provides an opportunity for campus to remember, learn, and act on lessons from King’s legacy of activism, equity, social justice, and community building.

The MLK Symposium is jointly sponsored by the Division of Diversity, Equity & Educational Achievement and Student Affairs in partnership with the Wisconsin Union Theater.

2024 MLK Symposium

Wednesday, January 31, 2024, 5:30–7 p.m.
Doors Open at 5 p.m.
Wisconsin Union Theater’s Shannon Hall at Memorial Union & Virtual

Learn More

About Anna Deavere Smith

Anna Deavere Smith is a writer and actress. She is credited with having created a new form of theater. Her plays, sometimes called “docudramas,” focus on contemporary issues from multiple points of view and are composed from excerpts of hundreds of interviews. Plays, and films based on them, include “Fires in the Mirror” and “Twilight: Los Angeles,” both of which dealt with volatile race events in the 1990s; “Let Me Down Easy,” about the U.S. healthcare system; and “Notes from the Field,” which focused on the school-to-prison pipeline.

Her work as an actress on television includes “Inventing Anna,” “The West Wing,” “Nurse Jackie,” and “Black-ish.” Mainstream movies include “Philadelphia,” “The American President,” “Rachel Getting Married,” and “Here Today.”

President Obama awarded Smith the National Endowment for the Humanities Medal. She was the 2015 Jefferson Lecturer. She is the recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship, several Obie awards, two Drama Desk awards, the George Polk Career Award in Journalism, and the Dean’s Medal from the Stanford University School of Medicine. She was a runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize and nominated for two Tony Awards.

Smith is a University Professor at the New York University Tisch School of the Arts. She has several honorary doctorate degrees including those from Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, Spelman College, Prairie View University, Juilliard, and Oxford.

Communications Toolkit

Celebrating MLK Day in the Community

We are committed to supporting culturally relevant, transformative, and community-building programming that reflects Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy. Through these offerings, we hope to empower agents of positive social change and dialogue in our communities.

Hip Hop Arts Residency Program with Marc Bamuthi Joseph

The Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives (OMAI) welcomes Marc Bamuthi Joseph to UW-Madison for a Spring 2024 short-term arts residency in the Hip Hop Arts Residency Program (HHARP). This residency will take place between Thursday February 1 – Saturday, February 3, 2024.

HHARP originated in partnership with the Division of the Arts, and is grounded in strengthening the connection between academics, arts, and activism. These short-term interdisciplinary arts residencies host highly esteemed and established artists, engaging in educational experiences through curricular and co-curricular activities. Since 1999, the HHARP has hosted 51 residencies involving 55 artists-in-residence, and more than 140 guest artists from 20 different countries. HAARP has brought together over 50 university units and over 40 community organizations. See Past Residencies

PEOPLE Program Service Opportunity

The UW–Madison’s PEOPLE Program will participate in a service engagement and educational opportunity on Friday, January 26, 2024. Fifty PEOPLE high school-aged youth from Madison and Milwaukee will travel together to Milwaukee. They will begin the day volunteering with Feeding America, supporting efforts to bring attention to the importance of access to nutritious food for all. In the afternoon, they will visit the America’s Black Holocaust Museum. The group will wrap up their evening in fellowship over a meal before returning to their respective homes. 

The activities organized provide PEOPLE scholars from both Madison and Milwaukee the opportunity to work and learn alongside one another to promote positive collaboration and social dialogue. 

MLK Events in the Community (2024)

Friday, January 12

  • MLK Community Meal, 4:30–7:30 p.m., Gordon Dining and Event Center, Learn More  [THIS EVENT IS CANCELED DUE TO WEATHER]

Saturday, January 13

  • MLK College Readiness Summit, 10:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m., Madison College Goodman South Campus, Register
  • “I Have a Dream” Scholarship Ball, 6:00–11 p.m., Wisconsin Masonic Center, Buy Tickets

Sunday, January 14

  • MLK Outstanding Young Person Breakfast, 7:30–10 a.m., Edgewood High School, Buy Tickets
  • MLK Ecumenical Service, 4:30–6:00 p.m., Fountain of Life Church, Learn More

Monday, January 15

  • MLK Youth Call To Service, 11:30 a.m.–5 p.m., Madison Central Library, Learn More
  • 39th Annual City of Madison & Dane County MLK Day Observance, 5–8 p.m., Overture Center Capitol Theater, Learn More
  • Wisconsin’s 43rd Annual Tribute and Ceremony, noon, Capitol Rotunda, Attend or Tune in

Past Coverage

Past speakers

2023: Benjamin Jealous, former NAACP President
2022: Nikole Hannah-Jones, Journalist/Author
2021: Isabel Wilkerson, Journalist/Author
2020: Mae Jemison,  Astronaut
2019: Mandela Barnes, Lieutenant Governor
2018: Student activist panel*

* The 2018 event was organized by the former Division of Student Life in collaboration with the Morgridge Center for Public Service.