Annette Gordon-Reed will be the keynote speaker for the Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium, Jan. 18 – Photo courtesy of the Dallas Institute


Special to The Dallas Examiner


The Dallas Institute will host its traditional Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium virtually Jan. 18 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Themed The Impact Of Slavery On Rev. King’s ‘Dream’, it emphasizes the continuing impact of King’s legacy on civil rights in American.

The symposium will begin with a dramatic reading by Dallas-based actor Jamal Sterling of poetry from the Harlem Renaissance. Following the keynote address there will be a panel discussion with local leaders that will include Prof. Gordon-Reed and be moderated by Dr. J. Larry Allums.

Opening the symposium, award-winning actress/singer Denise Lee, founder and CEO of Visions For Change, Inc. (formerly Change the Perception) a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization created to building bridges between communities through conversation, activities and programs. She has been awarded the Rudy Eastman Diversity Award by the Live Theater League of Tarrant County and a Special Citation of Recognition by the DFW Theater Critics. In August, Lee received the 2019 Hero of Hope Award for her courageous stand for the rights of all people without regard to gender race, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. She is the founder and Executive Producer of the Denise Lee Onstage Cabaret Series and the Dallas Cabaret Festival featuring the best in Dallas based and National Cabaret Artists.

Keynote speaker, Annette Gordon-Reed, is the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize for History and one of the most authoritative voices on race and history in America. She is a professor of history in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, and the Charles Warren Professor of American Legal History at Harvard Law School. She is the award-winning author of six books, including The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, which won the Pulitzer Prize in history and the National Book Award for nonfictionand fourteen other awards. It explores the inconsistencies of Jefferson’s stance on slavery and his relationship with enslaved woman Sally Hemings, and has been called “the best study of a slave family ever written” by noted Jefferson scholar Joseph Ellis.

Joining Gordon-Reed during a panel later in the event will be Drs. Sharron Wilkins Conrad, Donna McBride and Kenton Rambsy.


MLK symposium panelists

Conrad has worked as Director of Education and Public Programs at The Sixth Floor Museum for seven years. Her career has included appointments at the Baltimore Museum of Art, the International Festival of Arts and Ideas, the Maryland Historical Society, and the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. She is a member of the American Historical Association and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.

McBride, Ph.D. is a Fellow at the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. She has taught at UT Dallas and SMU. For many years, McBride was a faculty member and the head of the Upper School at Trinity Christian Academy. Currently, she leads the monthly book group, The Historians, at the Dallas Institute. McBride is also a member of the Louise and Donald Cowan Center for Education Board, and she is a consultant for the Cowan Academies teacher training.

Kenton Rambsyis an assistant Professor of African American literature at the University of Texas at Arlington with an affiliation to the Department of History. He received his Ph.D. in English from the University of Kansas in May 2015, and is a 2010 Magna Cum-Laude, Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Morehouse College. His areas of research include 20th and 21st century African American short fiction, Hip Hop and book history. His ongoing Digital Humanities projects use datasets to illuminate the significance of recurring trends and thematic shifts as it relates Black literary artists.

The moderator, Dr. J. Larry Allums, has served as professor of English and Dean of College of Arts at the University of Mobile for more than 20 years. He then served as executive director of the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture for 23 years. He continues to lead institute events, including the Hiett Prize in the Humanities, the Martin Luther King, Jr., Symposium, and The Dallas Festival of Ideas.

Jamal Sterling, a local actor and voice over artist, will provide entertainment during the event. A native of Detroit, Michigan he graduated from Southern Methodist University’s MFA Acting Program in 2002. After years working on projects in Los Angeles and New Orleans, Jamal permanently relocated to Dallas where he continues to perform in a variety of productions on stage and screen.

There is a small registration fee. However, students and educators can obtain free admission. For more information or to register, visit

Mollie Finch Belt is the Publisher and Chief Executive Officer of The Dallas Examiner. She attended elementary school in Tuskegee, Ala.; Cambridge, Mass.; and Dallas, Texas. In 1961, she graduated from...

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