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Events | FeaturedJanuary 01, 2023

UAFS to Host Slate of Events Honoring MLK

Under the theme “Crossing the Bridge over Troubled Waters,” the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith will partner with area agencies to host a slate of events honoring the life and legacy of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“It is always a humbling experience to be part of the days and weeks spent celebrating Dr. King,” said Dr. Williams Yamkam, associate professor of political science and advisor to the UAFS Democracy Project. “Not only is it enriching to be able to focus on one aspect of Dr. Martin Luther King’s impactful legacy, but it is also fulfilling to work with other members of the MLK celebration team in the community to extol and share with the public some of his most powerful lessons.”

In October 1964, Dr. King received the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolence. He also was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal posthumously. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, slated this year for January 17, was established as a US federal holiday in 1986.

This year’s commemorative activities include a prayer service, the annual breakfast, and commemorative march, educational sessions, a peanut butter drive, and fireside chats.

During the annual breakfast and panel discussion, UAFS student athlete Nya Stewart will moderate a discussion highlighting the importance of coming together to address issues facing our community – a pillar of Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy.

The panelists have a track record of deep work, committed advocacy, and tactical solutions to our community’s problems. Panelists include:

      • Carl Geffken, Fort Smith City Administrator
      • Keith Gibson, Businessman, and member of the Arkansas State Highway Commission
      • Dr. Ann-Gee Lee, UAFS Professor of English and Rhetoric; Advisor to the UAFS Cultural Network; Read This Program Advisor; and Literacy Council Board Member
      • Karla Palma, Community Organizer, Arkansas United Community Coalition
      • Jay Richardson, State Representative-District 49

“We hope to be able to embrace and live by Dr. King’s lessons,” continued Yamkam, “and to live out the virtue of togetherness in particular. We encourage our fellow River residents to join us as we celebrate and honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this week and into the future.”


The full slate of 2023 events includes: 

UAFS Campus Events:  

January 16-21, 2023, at the UAFS Campus Center

Collection boxes from the River Valley Regional Food Bank will be set up to collect peanut butter, reflecting Dr. King’s 1964 quote, “I have the audacity to believe people everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education, and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits.”

(A collection bin will also be placed at the Elm Grove Community Center on Jan. 16.)


January 16-21, 2023, at the UAFS Boreham Library

A display of books and media centering on the Civil Rights Movement


Thursday, January 19, 2023 Time: 11 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. at Gardner 201

A Public Lecture on the Civil Rights Movement by Dr. Matt McCoy


Friday, January 20, 2023 - 1-1:50 p.m. at Vines 235

A Public Presentation on Collaboration to Foster Cultural Tolerance by Dr. Ann-Gee Lee


Celebrations in the Fort Smith Community:

Sunday, January 15, 2023, 5 p.m. at James Missionary Baptist Church,

4916 High Street, Fort Smith, AR 72904

A Concert of Prayer


Monday, January 16, 2023, 7:30 a.m. at Elm Grove Community Center, MLK Park

MLK Day Breakfast and Panel Discussion: Crossing the Bridge Over Troubled Waters, Fostering Community-Based Solutions


Monday, January 16, 2023, 9:30 a.m. at Elm Grove Community Center, MLK Park

Symbolic March Around MLK Park


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Rachel Rodemann Putman

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