MLK roundtable, August 28

International Writers Center hosts local scholars, activists for roundtable on 40th anniversary of King's famous speech

On August 28, 1963, some 250,000 people gathered in our nation’s capitol as part of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, one of the largest and most historically significant mass demonstrations of the civil rights era. Standing before the Lincoln Memorial, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his immortal “I Have A Dream” speech, one of the most famous and most stirring addresses in U.S. history.

Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of both the march and King’s speech, Washington University’s International Writers Center in Arts & Sciences will host a roundtable discussion featuring more than a half-dozen local scholars and civil rights activists.

The event — which is co-sponsored by the University’s African & Afro-American Studies Program and American Culture Studies Program, both in Arts & Sciences — begins at 7 p.m. Thursday, August 28, in the Ann W. Olin Women’s Building Formal Lounge. (The Women’s Building is located just south of Throop Drive, or a short walk north of the Mallinckrodt Student Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd.) The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call (314) 935-5576.

Participants include Frankie Muse Freeman, a noted St. Louis civil rights attorney during the 1950s and 60s and the first woman appointed to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; community activist Percy Green, a leader of the St. Louis civil rights movement in the 1960s and 70s; and former Washington University trustee Margaret Bush Wilson, a prominent civil rights attorney in the 1960s and the first woman to chair the board of directors of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Also joining the discussion is Washington University’s Wayne Fields, Ph.D., the Lynne Cooper Harvey Distinguished Professor of English in Arts & Sciences, director of American Culture Studies and an expert on political rhetoric. Other faculty participants are Howard Brick, Ph.D., professor of history in Arts & Sciences, who teaches 20th-century U.S. intellectual, cultural, social and political history; and Leslie Brown, Ph.D., assistant professor of history and African & Afro-American Studies, who teaches African-American history since Emancipation and the history of the civil rights movement, among other topics.

Gerald Early, Ph.D., director of the International Writers Center and interim co-director of the African & Afro-American Studies Program, will serve as moderator.

The discussion, which will last about an hour, will be preceded by a 15-minute video of King’s speech, played in its entirety, and followed by a reception.