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Annette Gordon-Reed, Sally Hemings Scholar, Keynotes Dallas Institute’s MLK Symposium

by Gila Espinoza 17 Jan 2021 9:00 AM

Annette Gordon-Reed, the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize for history, will be the keynote speaker Monday at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium from the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture.

Since 2006, the Dallas Institute has hosted a symposium to celebrate the legacy of Dr. King. This year, the event will be streamed online.

Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium. Jan. 18, 6 p.m. Virtual. Details.

Gordon-Reed has emerged as one of the most authoritative voices on race and history in America, said Dr. J. Larry Allums, Executive Director Emeritus at the Dallas Institute.

portrait of Annette-Gordon-Reed

Harvard professor and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Annette Gordon-Reed will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Dallas Institute’s MLK, Jr. Symposium. Photo provided by Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture.

Her book, The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, won the Pulitzer Prize in History, the National Book Award for Nonfiction, and 14 other awards. The book explores Thomas Jefferson’s contradictory stance on slavery and his relationship with slave Sally Hemmings. Professor Gordon-Reed has taught history at Harvard since 2009.

“We’ve titled this symposium, ‘The Impact of Slavery on Rev. King’s Dream’ because as Professor Gordon-Reed presents it in several of her books, there’s no way to avoid the consequences of slavery all the way up to the present day.

“And that would include, of course, MLK’s work in the ’50s and ’60s during the period of the Southern Civil Rights Movement,” said Allums.

“We’re gonna make some connections there. I’m looking forward to hearing how she will make those connections and then will further explore them in the conversation that happens after her presentation.”

symposium panelists and entertainers

Top row: Dr. Sharron Wilkins Conrad, Dr. Donna McBride, and Dr. Kenton Rambsy. Bottom row: J. Larry Allums, Jamal Sterling, and Denise Lee.

Entertainment by two well-known Dallas performers will open the symposium. Denise Lee will sing and actor Jamal Sterling will read poetry from the Harlem Renaissance.

After the entertainment segment of the program, Professor Gordon-Reed will begin her keynote address. Following her presentation, she will be joined by three Dallas panelists and moderator Allums to expand on the conversation.


  • Dr. Sharron Wilkins Conrad, Fellow at SMU’s Center for Presidential History
  • Dr. Kenton Rambsy, Professor of English at UT-Arlington with an affiliation in the
    Department of History
  • Dr. Donna McBride, retired professor of history who leads the Historians Book Group at The
    Dallas Institutes of Humanities and Culture

The program begins at 6 p.m. on Monday, January 18. Register for the event on the Dallas Institute’s website. The cost is $15 per person but educators and students are free.

Got a tip? Email Gila Espinoza at [email protected]. You can follow her on Twitter @espinoza_kera.

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