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News Release

Jan. 10, 2022

Community invited to annual MLK Celebration Week activities

Updated: Jan. 14, 2022

Northwest Missouri State University will commemorate the work of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. with its annual Celebration Week, beginning Monday with a presentation of the state of diversity and inclusion at Northwest and the University's annual Peace Lunch.

“MLK Week at Northwest is a great time to learn about various topics geared toward creating an inclusive campus environment,” Dr. Justin Mallett, Northwest’s assistant vice president of diversity and inclusion, said. “If we, as a campus, are committed toward creating an inclusive environment, it is going to take all of us and not just some of us. MLK Week is a great starting point to provide learning opportunities in the area of diversity and inclusion.”

In conjunction with the national observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the University community is invited to Mallet's presentation of the state of diversity and inclusion at Northwest at 9:45 a.m. in the J.W. Jones Student Union Boardroom.

Then, the annual Peace Lunch features a keynote address by Rev. Sharon Washington Risher, who lost her mother in the June 17, 2015, shooting at the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

A complete schedule and additional details for Northwest’s MLK Celebration Week are provided below.

“It is important to keep the legacy of MLK alive because he was a proponent of unity,” Mallett said. “In this climate, unity and understanding are at the forefront of what we want to accomplish. We cannot create an inclusive Northwest campus and Maryville community by being segregated in our approach. We must come together and use MLK as a guiding post for unity and inclusiveness.”

Although Martin Luther King Jr. was born Jan. 15, 1929, his birthday has been observed as a national holiday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, on the third Monday of each January since 1986.

In observance of the holiday, Northwest will not have classes Monday, Jan. 17, and all University offices are closed.

King’s effort to lead the American civil rights movement during the 1950s and ‘60s included the 1963 March on Washington. There, he delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech, which dramatically raised public consciousness about civil rights and established King as a world figure. He was assassinated April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee.

Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Week events at Northwest are sponsored by Northwest’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion. For more information, contact Mallett at or 660.562.1317.


Monday, Jan. 17

State of Diversity and Inclusion at Northwest

9:45 to 11 a.m., Student Union Boardroom

The Northwest community is invited to a presentation by Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion Dr. Justin Mallett on the state of diversity and inclusion at Northwest.

MLK Peace Lunch and Keynote Address

11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Student Union Ballroom

A free hot lunch buffet will be provided along with a keynote address by Rev. Sharon Washington Risher. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion also will announce recipients of the Karen L. Daniel Legacy Fund scholarships and its Diversity and Inclusion Awards.

Rev. Risher was catapulted into the limelight after the Charleston, South Carolina, shooting at the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 17, 2015. Her beloved mother and the church’s sexton, Mrs. Ethel Lee Lance, was killed with eight others, including two cousins and a childhood friend. Since that horrific tragedy, Rev. Risher has been outspoken about the nation’s gun laws and is one of the national spokespersons for the grassroots advocacy groups Everytown and Moms Demand Gun Sense. She has appeared on CNN on several occasions and was interviewed by Time Magazine, Marie-Claire magazine, The Guardian and BCC radio, among others. She also visited President Barack Obama at the White House on several occasions, and she has been a guest speaker for several Martin Luther King Jr. memorial events.

The Charleston native graduated from Charles A. Brown High School and from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina. After discerning a call to vocational ordained ministry in 2002 while attending St. Paul Presbyterian Church in North Carolina she relocated to Austin, Texas, where she later received a Master of Divinity degree in 2007 from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. She has worked in full-time hospital chaplaincy since 2012.

Rev. Risher was a staff chaplain and trauma specialist with Parkland Hospital of Dallas, Texas, where she had been employed since 2012. Until shortly after her mother’s death, Rev. Risher had served as associate pastor for congregational care at Rice Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where she preached and led the women’s ministries of the church.

Rev. Risher’s book, “For Such a Time as This: Hope and Forgiveness after the Charleston Massacre,” was published in June 2019, coinciding with the four-year anniversary of the shooting.

Wednesday, Jan. 19

Movie Night and Discussion: “Get on the Bus”

6 to 8:30 p.m., Student Union Boardroom

In this 1996 film, a group of African American men board a bus bound for the Million Man March in Washington, D.C. By sharing their stories and experiences, the group of strangers unite and discover what it means to be black in America.

Thursday, Jan. 20

Movie Night and Discussion: “MLK/FBI”

6 to 8:30 p.m., Student Union Boardroom

This documentary explores the U.S. government’s surveillance and harassment of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Friday, Jan. 21

Trivia Night

6 to 7 p.m., Student Union Boardroom

Join the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Black Student Union for a night of trivia. Team of three to four players will answer questions related to the MLK week activities and movie screenings. Prizes will be awarded.


Dr. Mark Hornickel
Administration Building
Room 215