’From Black Power to BLM: Reimagining Dr. King’s Dream’

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Martin Luther King Jr., speaking to people in Eutaw, Alabama, 1966; note attenti

Martin Luther King Jr., speaking to people in Eutaw, Alabama, 1966; note attentive boy at right elbow. (Image credit: Bob Fitch)

The Stanford community is invited to attend a virtual event in celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr., including a panel discussion and a video tribute to Clayborne Carson, the Ronnie Lott Director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford.

The Stanford community is invited to attend a virtual event in celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. that will also honor Clayborne Carson, a history professor who has devoted most of his professional life to the study of King and the movements the civil rights leader inspired.

The event, " From Black Power to BLM: Reimagining Dr. King’s Dream ," will be held from 12-1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 21. In addition to the tribute to Carson, the program will include a moderated panel discussion and a Q&A. The livestream will be posted here.

Rick Banks, the Jackson Eli Reynolds Professor of Law and one of the panelists, said he hopes the event will highlight the continuing relevance of King’s life and work in American society.

"In understanding the significance of King, we need to move beyond the sanitized versions of his life that people often celebrate," said Banks, who is the faculty director of the Stanford Center for Racial Justice.

"We need to remind ourselves that when King was assassinated, he was in Memphis to support striking sanitation workers. Even in the 1960s, he was focused not only on rights to equal treatment but also on economic justice. And if he were alive today, he’d most certainly be concerned about the growth of economic inequality in American society."

Students, staff and faculty share perspectives

The event will feature a moderated panel discussion on the theme, "From Black Power to BLM: Reimagining Dr. King’s Dream."

Banks said he wants people who attend the virtual event to appreciate the extent to which the challenges of racism are the challenges of democracy.

"If we want our democracy to work, we must address the many racial inequities in our society," he said. "Racism has long been a fault line of our democracy, and it will continue to do so, and indeed will threaten our democracy, unless we actively work to create a society that works better for everyone."

The panelists are:

  • Ralph Richard Banks, the Jackson Eli Reynolds Professor of Law at Stanford and faculty director of the Stanford Center for Racial Justice at Stanford Law School.
  • Felicia Smith, head of the Learning and Outreach Department of Stanford Libraries and creator of the 2020 exhibit titled, " Say Their Names - No More Names."
  • Mohammad Elmojtaba Gumma, a Stanford undergraduate student who is the co-president of the Black Student Union , a social, cultural, and political organization primarily concerned with the continual improvement of life for Black students at Stanford and the spurring of imaginative changes in the Black community.


Following the panel discussion, Carson and Kimya Loder, a graduate fellow in the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity and president of the Black Graduate Student Association will offer their perspectives on the discussion.

Tribute to Clayborne Carson

The celebration will open with a video tribute to Carson, who is the Martin Luther King, Jr. Centennial Professor of History, Emeritus, and the Ronnie Lott Director of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute at Stanford.

Carson was selected in 1985 by King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, to edit and publish the definitive, 14-volume edition of The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr., a comprehensive collection of King’s most significant correspondence, sermons, speeches, published writings and unpublished manuscripts. So far, the King Institute has published seven volumes. Read more about the Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project here.

Carson recently announced the World House Project , a new initiative of the King Institute, under a partnership with the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Relations at Stanford and its Center for Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law.

The video tribute to Carson will be posted on Stanford Today on Thursday following its debut at the event.

Information about the Jan. 21 livestream can be found here.

The event is sponsored by the Black Staff Alliance, the Black Community Services Center, the Diversity and Access Office, University Human Resources, Stanford Redwood City and the Office of Campus Engagement. The video honoring Carson was produced by University Communications, in consultation with the event’s planning committee and the Office of Campus Engagement.


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