Cornel West, Tavis Smiley to headline MLK Week

Cornel West

Tavis Smiley (top) and Cornel West

Radford University will celebrate the enduring legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. with a week of events encouraging community members to keep alive his dream of equality and brotherhood.

The annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Program will feature philosopher and academic Cornel West, Ph.D., and TV personality and author Tavis Smiley. The keynote speakers will present a look at poverty in America and its relation to Dr. King's courage to still dream.

"We are honored and delighted to host Dr. Cornel West and Tavis Smiley, two of today's most prominent African-American voices," said Crasha Perkins, director of RU's Center for Diversity and Inclusion. "Their manifesto on poverty in America is timely and harrowing."

West, a prominent educator and author, holds degrees from Harvard and Princeton universities. He has taught at Union Theological Seminary in New York, Harvard, Yale University and the University of Paris. He has written 19 books and has edited 13 books.

Smiley began his career as a broadcaster in Los Angeles in 1991. Since then he has become a noted figure on both radio and television. He currently hosts "The Tavis Smiley Show" on Public Radio International and "Tavis Smiley" on PBS. He is also an author, having released "The Rich and The Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto" with West in 2012.

"Dr. West and Mr. Smiley will shed new light on Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy and will, we hope, empower members of the Radford community to reach out and bring about change," Perkins said.

West and Smiley's keynote addresses will be on Wednesday, Jan. 23, in Bondurant Auditorium, Preston Hall, at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are free but must be picked up in advance from the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (Tyler Hall, Suite 25) or the information desk in Hurlburt Student Center.

In addition to the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Program, RU will host events throughout the week of Jan. 21-27:

  • Monday, Jan. 21. Members of the RU community can participate in an inauguration day trip to visit the Martin Luther King Jr. Monument in Washington, D.C.
  • Tuesday, Jan. 22, 7 p.m. A panel discussion titled "The Brotherhood" will be held in the auditorium of Hurlburt Student Center.
  • Thursday, Jan. 24, 5 p.m. A campus candlelight walk will begin on the campus side of the College of Business and Economics building at Tyler Avenue and Jefferson Street.
  • Thursday, Jan. 24, 9 p.m. The 2008 film "The Great Debaters" starring Denzel Washington will be screened in the Hurlburt Student Center auditorium.
  • Friday, Jan. 25, noon to 2 p.m. The Hurlburt Student Activities Center will host Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Ribbon Day.
  • Friday, Jan. 25, 8 p.m. The Center for Diversity and Inclusion (Tyler Hall, Suite 25) will host a game night.
  • Saturday, Jan. 26, noon. The Radford Public Library will host a community service celebration and will screen the animated children's film "Our Friend, Martin."
  • Sunday, Jan. 27, 11 a.m. The week's events will end with a faith service at Jubilee Christian Center in Fairlawn.

All events are free and open to the public. For more information, email

Jan 14, 2013
Dan Waidelich
(540) 831-7749