William G. and Rose M. Mays Martin Luther King Jr. Annual Lectureship and Events

History and Mission

The Center for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, the Black Student Union, and the William G. and Rose M. Mays lectureship funds events to honor the memory and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

King was an American clergyman, sociologist, activist, humanitarian, and leader in the Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience. King has become a national icon in the history of American progressivism.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Annual Celebration occurs on the 3rd Monday in January.

History of Events

  • The first sponsored lectureship occurred in 2003 at the University of Evansville.
  • The first Symbolic March of the 1963 Historic March in Washington occurred in 1984 at the University of Evansville.
  • Starting in 2021, the Symbolic March changed its focus to the Voting Rights March from Selma, AL to Montgomery, AL of 1965. The inaugural 54 Miles to Social Change virtual symbolic march enabled individuals and teams across the country to participate.
  • 54 Miles to Social Change March connects to the Journey to Justice Summer Bus Tour started in 2021.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Program Committee

Function: The committee shall plan an appropriate celebration during the academic year in commemoration of Martin Luther King, Jr. The committee will plan one year in advance in order to obtain appropriate speakers and schedule activities. The Mays Martin Luther King Lectureship will annually fund the keynote speaker during the annual Martin Luther King Day celebration.

Membership: The committee shall consist of the Chief Diversity Officer, three faculty appointed by the Faculty Senate; two students, one of whom will be from the minority student population, appointed by the President of the Student Government Association; the University Chaplain; the Director of University Relations, an Associate Dean of Students, and community representation as deemed by the deed of the gift from the Mays. The chair of the committee will be the Chief Diversity Officer.

Committee Membership

  • Ms. Leairra Carter (Student Representative)
  • Dr. Lisa Hale (College of Education and Health Sciences Representative)
  • Mr. Arthur Hurst III (Student Representative)
  • Ms. Melissa Morehead Moore (Community Representative)
  • Dr. Yolanda Obaze (College of Business and Engineering Representative)
  • Dr. Robert Shelby (Committee Chairperson)
  • Professor Sarah Smith (William L. Ridgway College of Arts and Sciences Representative)
  • Mr. Michael Tessier (Associate Dean of Students)
  • Vacant (Director of Religious Life)

Annual Lectureship Speakers and Themes

Mays Legacy Award

The award is presented annually at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Annual Lectureship to a UE alumni or campus member selected by the University of Evansville Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee. The purpose of the award is to recognize and affirm those who have made significant contributions in the areas of race relations, justice, and/or human rights. The nominees have been personally or corporately involved in making tangible, visible, and meaningful contributions to the advancement of race relations, justice, and/or human rights causes.

Award Recipients

  • 2021 – Stephanie Terry, ‘00
  • 2020 – Connie Robinson-Blair, ‘78
  • 2019 – Dr. Ira Neal, ‘61
  • 2018 – Dr. Thomas Kazee, H ’18
  • 2017 – Lana Burton, ’79
  • 2016 – Estella Moss
  • 2015 – Sondra Matthews, ’77
  • 2014 – William and Dr. Rose Mays, ’67