Martin Luther King, Jr. Series at RISD

Each academic year, the RISD community and the Office of Intercultural Student Engagement work together to organize and host a series of special events honoring the life and vast contributions made by Martin Luther King, Jr. in creating a more just and democratic society. The annual series includes lectures, programs and workshops designed to provide RISD and the local community with meaningful moments of service, reflection, self-development, inspiration and celebration.

2016 - 2017

Emory Douglas
2016–17 MLK Keynote + Honoree


An Artist, Educator, and Human Rights Activist, Emory Douglas is legendary for his use of art as a vehicle of education, empowerment, and resistance.  Serving as Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party between 1967-1980, Douglas is most noted for his political drawings and cartoons in the Black Panther Newspaper. Douglas’ artistic and community impacts are vast, including his 21 year tenure as as the layout artist and graphic designer for the San Francisco-based Sun Reporter Publishing Company.  In 2007, a collection of his work was compiled in the edited book, Black Panther: The Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas.

2015 - 2016

Ambassador Andrew Young
2015–16 MLK Keynote + Honoree


An esteemed civil rights activist, Andrew Young, Jr. will speak about his experiences working with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1960s and upholding peace and justice through his work as a pastor and politician. After serving as a US Congressman from 1977­–79, he was appointed US Ambassador to the United Nations by President Jimmy Carter and went on to serve as mayor of Atlanta, GA from 1982–90. Through his leadership, vision and integrity, Young has worked to facilitate change throughout his life, focusing on eradicating poverty, racism and war. 

Faith Ringgold
Faith Ringgold: More than 60 Years


Artist, activist, author and teacher Faith Ringgold will share inspiring, humorous and very human stories illustrating her life’s work. Through political imagery and first-hand accounts of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, she will contextualize her immense body of work and reflect on how artists and designers use creativity and making to advance the values of democracy, equity and access for all.

2014 - 2015

Danny Glover
2014–15 MLK Keynote + Honoree


Actor, producer and humanitarian Danny Glover has been a commanding presence on screen, stage and television for more than 30 years.  In addition to his film work, Glover is highly sought after as a public speaker, delivering inspiring addresses and moving performances in such diverse venues as college campuses, union rallies and business conventions. Glover has gained respect for his wide-reaching community activism and philanthropic efforts, with a particular emphasis on advocacy for economic justice and access to health care and education programs in the United States and Africa.

Tim Wise


Internationally renowned writer (White Like Me) and educator, Tim Wise will argue that responsible leaders must address their individual biases and tackle the dangers of un-recognized privilege. Participants will leave this lecture with both strategies for creating greater equity throughout their organization and an understanding of how this work will foster stronger communities, and create more successful solutions to organizational problems.

2013 - 2014

Marian Wright Edelman
2013–14 MLK Keynote + Honoree


Marian Wright Edelman has been an advocate for disadvantaged Americans for her entire professional life. She began her career in the mid-1960's, as the first black woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar, served as legal counsel for the Poor People's Campaign organized by Dr. King, and for 40 years, has served as founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund (CDF), the nation's strongest voice for children and families. Ms. Edelman will share her thoughts on creative endeavor, social change, and the urgency of advancing democracy. 

2012 - 2013

Harry Belafonte
2012–13 MLK Keynote + Honoree


Award-winning Harry Belafonte is as well known for his social activism and pursuit of social justice as he is for his acting and musical talent. His album Calypso was the first LP to sell more than one million copies. He earned a Tony award for his Broadway debut and an Emmy for “An Evening with Belafonte,” in which he was also the first black producer in television. President Clinton awarded him the National Medal for the Arts. The 85 year old Belafonte personally funded many of the activities of the early civil rights movement, stood with Dr. King at the Lincoln Memorial as the latter delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech, served as a UNICEF ambassador, and has remained active in many different programs supporting hunger relief, AIDS awareness, and the need for education.

2011 - 2012

Angela Davis
2011–12 MLK Keynote + Honoree


    Follow us on Social Media!

    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • Instagram