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The 11th Annual MLK Symposium, “From Birmingham to Charleston: Martin Luther King, Jr., and Civil Rights in America.” will focus on America’s progress in ensuring equality under the law and civil rights for all citizens, Monday, January 18, 2016, at 7 p.m. at the City Performance Hall in the Dallas Arts District.

 Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s achievement and legacy by extending the conversation on civil rights in Dallas-Fort Worth, next year’s MLK Symposium will feature a keynote presentation by Teju Cole, Distinguished Writer in Residence at Bard College and photography critic of The New York Times Magazine. Mr. Cole’s keynote will be followed by a panel discussion on the civil rights challenges facing us today; panelists will include a Dallas-area college student and the Dallas Police Department’s manager of community affairs and media, Shawn Williams.  The program will also include an excerpt from Katori Hall’s play The Mountaintop performed by Dallas Theater Center actors.

 Dr. Larry Allums, executive director of the Dallas Institute said, “Our nation, like the entire world, is at a point in time when race relations and racial violence are at the heart of significant global events. In an area as culturally diverse as the DFW Metroplex, we see profound value in gathering to remember what Dr. King taught all of us about moving forward together in community and seriously pursuing and establishing the rights to which we are all entitled. Our 2016 event will bring to Dallas the words and wisdom of Teju Cole, a young man described by Salman Rushdie as one of the most gifted writers of his generation.”

Mr. Cole is at the forefront of a rising chorus of young African-American voices ushering in a new era of Civil Rights and racial justice. Born in the US in 1975 to Nigerian parents, Mr. Cole was raised in Nigeria and is a writer, art historian, and photographer who has also authored two books. His novella, Every Day is for the Thief, was named a book of the year by The New York Times, The Globe and Mail, NPR and The Telegraph. His novel Open City was also featured on numerous book of the year lists and won the PEN/Hemingway Award, the New York City Book Award for Fiction, the Rosenthal Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Internationaler Literaturpreis.

“We invite Dallas to this program as an opportunity for all our voices to come together with Mr. Cole’s to discuss the current state of racial and civil equality and the roles that all of us – from politician to citizen – play in helping our city lead the way forward,” added Dr. Allums. “We must recognize and confront what in our society has changed and what has not changed since Dr. King penned his famous ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail’ in 1963.”

Public City, which is curating this year’s musical and dramatic performances by Dallas artists, is a culture-driven public engagement consultancy and studio. Working to create authentic culture-based experiences, Public City’s exhibitions are rooted in a keen awareness of human-centric, place-based approaches that build community and create opportunities for people to connect with their cities, their neighborhoods and each other.

 The MLK Symposium is open to the public. General admission tickets are available for $20. Admission for teachers is $10, and students with ID are free. Dallas Institute members at the Friend and above level receive two free tickets.

 To register or become a Dallas Institute member, call the Dallas Institute at (214) 871-2440 or visit


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  • $0-$20
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  • 214-871-2440

2520 Flora St. · Dallas, TX 75201