Story by Bailey Bohannan, Staff writer
This year’s speaker at the Presidential Lecture will be Martin Luther King III, son of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr.
This year, Murray State is celebrating 60 years of desegregation and Kentucky is celebrating 50 years of civil rights acts, said Clint Combs, president of Student Government Association.
“It just kind of fell into our laps as we were searching,” Combs said. “The more we discussed it the more it made sense, so we are really excited to have him here this year.”
King will speak at 8 p.m. Feb. 8 in Lovett Auditorium during the Presidential Lecture with the topic of “Continuing the Legacy: the Civil Rights Struggle of the 21st Century.”
The Presidential Lecture is hosted and organized by the Student Government Association, the MSU Foundation and the President’s office. Each year, a committee made up of members from all three of these organizations meets to discuss who should speak at the annual Presidential Lecture. This year, these organizations looked at dozens of potential speakers who would not only appeal to students, but also to the community of Murray and Murray State alumni, Combs said.
Each year the committee seeks out individual leaders of the nation. The individuals who have spoken in the past bring national notoriety and set a standard for Murray State, said Jeanie Morgan, coordinator for student activities.
“I think the Presidential Lecture is one of the ways that we can establish ourselves as a university that looks forward,” Morgan said.
The past Presidential Lectures – such as when Bill Nye the Science Guy spoke – have brought in such a crowd that the lecture has moved to the CFSB Center. Although this year the lecture will be held at Lovett Auditorium, Morgan said she is expecting a very large crowd and hopes to fill Lovett to its maximum capacity of 2,100.
Morgan said students should take advantage of this opportunity to come and listen to King speak because this is not an opportunity that students get on a regular basis. She said it is important to see different perspectives and to hear about someone else’s history.
“I think it is very important that students experience different viewpoints,” Morgan said. “It is important that you open your mind and listen to people who have experienced different situations in their life.”
Combs said he wants students to come out to the lecture because he and everyone who worked on bringing King here are excited about it.
“[Listening to King speak is] a history lesson that you just can’t get in the classroom,” Combs said.
Two students who said they will be taking advantage of this opportunity to hear King speak are Kailey Ray, sophomore from Murray, and Katelyn Brinkman, junior from Waterloo, Illinois. They both said they want to hear King speak because it is not something they can hear every day.
Ray said she looks forward to the lecture because she thinks there is a lot that could be learned from someone so close to a major historical figure.
“I would be interested in what this man had to say,” Ray said. “I am sure he will be a wonderful speaker and will inspire us to go forth and make a change in the world like his father did and like he is trying to do right now.”