In an effort to reach a wide audience, this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. symposium will feature speakers that include NAACP Chairman Julian Bond and Larry Wilmore from “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”
Bond will deliver the keynote speech Monday morning at Hill Auditorium.
Theda Gibbs, coordinator for the MLK symposium planning committee, said Bond was invited to speak because of his long-standing commitment to civil rights. Bond, who was a member of the Georgia General Assembly for over 20 years, has been chair of the NAACP since 1998.
“We think about current events, and we think of a person whose life and work have been creating positive change in our community,” Gibbs said of the selection process.
Gibbs said Bond will address a variety of topics including what changes to expect when Barack Obama becomes president.
“I’m sure he’ll forecast what will happen when (Obama) takes office,” she said.
In addition to Bond, Larry Wilmore, the so-called “Senior Black Correspondent” from “The Daily Show,” will be speaking as part of the symposium.
Though best known for his role on the Comedy Central staple, Wilmore has also written for television series “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “The Jamie Foxx Show.”
Helen Look, chair of the University Library MLK Day committee, said it chose Wilmore because of his ability to connect to students.
“We really wanted to reach out to the student population,” Look said. “We felt like we wanted to do something that would really appeal to students. I think that the whole idea of the campus symposium is to look at different aspects of what the theme is.”
Look said she expects Wilmore’s speech, called “Don’t Take Diversity Seriously: Just Kidding!” to be an “honest discussion” of race relations in the United States.
“He knows how to bring in humor in things,” she said. “He’s going to be talking about the election, the upcoming presidential inauguration, any of the current news events.”
Gibbs said the timing of the symposium with the historical inauguration of the first black president will affect the atmosphere.
“I think people will be excited,” she said. “We’ll hear many conversations about how things will change in a positive way. (Obama) instills a sense of hope.”
She said Obama’s ability to inspire young people fits in perfectly with the symposium’s theme, “A Dreamer, But Not the Only One.”
Gibbs added that the theme was chosen in order to acknowledge people other than Martin Luther King Jr. who have been important to the civil rights movement.