The National Civil Rights Museum (NCRM) and the University of Memphis will host a two-day MLK50 Symposium that will convene scholars, historians and thought leaders to present on the state of civil and human rights issues and racial and economic equity 50 years after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The symposium will take place April 2-3 and will culminate with a commemorative ceremony on April 4, the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination at the historic Lorraine Motel.

The theme for the MLK50 Symposium is based on Dr. King’s final book, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?”

“We intend to initiate thought-provoking dialogue that will address several of the issues that Dr. King felt were yet to be accomplished – economic equity, access to quality education and employment – with justice as a common thread and underlying principle,” said Terri Lee Freeman, NCRM president.

“Our intent is to have our panelists help us develop a blueprint for action on these issues that our community and others across the nation can begin to implement.”

Day One of the Symposium, to be hosted by the University of Memphis School of Law, will have a legal focus with free panel discussions on topics covering criminal justice, voting rights, persistent poverty and 21st century activism. Former U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. will be the keynote speaker for Day One at a ticketed luncheon at the Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis.

Day Two of the symposium will be hosted by the National Civil Rights Museum and will consist of three panel discussions – Memphis 50 Years Later, Marching Forward; Poverty & Economic Equity: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow; and The Promise of Education – and a ticketed luncheon. Author and historian Taylor Branch, best known for his award-winning trilogy of books chronicling Dr. King’s life and much of the history of the American Civil Rights Movement, will be the keynote speaker for a luncheon at the Holiday Inn-University of Memphis.

UofM President M. David Rudd pitched the two-day MLK50 Symposium as “a tremendous learning experience, bringing together citizens from throughout Memphis and beyond to reflect on the lasting impact of Dr. King’s work while exploring meaningful solutions to modern challenges affecting freedom, equality and justice.”

Featured panelists on Day One include Mark Osler, Toussaint Losier, Roy Austin, Tracey Maclin, Dayna Matthew, Debo Adegbile, Rick Hasen, Pamela Karlan, Sherrilyn Ifill, Dorothy Brown, Tomiko Brown-Nagin, Dorothy Roberts, Claude Steele, Beverly Tatum and Cornell Brooks.

Peter Letsou, dean of the University of Memphis School of Law, is “hopeful that this symposium will inspire the legal community – here in Memphis and around the world – to take action on the persistent injustices that Dr. King spent much of his life working to address.”

On Day Two, Michele Norris, former host of the National Public Radio evening news program “All Things Considered, will moderate the discussions. Panelists will include Dr. Julianne Malveaux, Dr. Michael Honey, Dr. Charles McKinney, James Johnson, Wendi C. Thomas, Dr. John King Jr., Dorian Warren, Dr. Walter Kimbrough, Dr. Randall Robinson, Dorsey Hopson and Karen Harrell.

All panel discussions for Day Two of the Symposium will be held at the University of Memphis Rose Theatre.

Following the symposium, the University of Memphis School of Law and National Civil Rights Museum will publish the presented papers and commentary in a separate volume that will be available and distributed nationally.

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