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MLK Lecture and Awards Ceremony

Logo for the UNC Chapel HIll MLK Celebration

The MLK Lecture and Awards Ceremony has featured such speakers as journalist Soledad O’Brien, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, former NAACP President/activist Benjamin Jealous, professor/author/radio host Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, social activist/author/co-creator of #BlackLivesMatter Patrisse Cullors, and many more since its inception over 40 years ago. This year, Black voting rights expert, award-winning visionary thought leader, institution builder, cultural activist and artist and connector LaTosha Brown will deliver the keynote.

The event also includes the presentation of the MLK UNC Scholarship for UNC juniors whose public and private community activities demonstrate a commitment to improving the quality of life of our community and campus, and the MLK Unsung Hero Awards for UNC staff/faculty, department or community/corporate entity who has exemplified a steadfast commitment to inclusion.

This year’s event took place on Feb. 22 (moved from its Jan. 19 date due to Covid concerns) and featured LaTosha Brown.



Keynote Speaker

Portrait of LaTosha Brown. LaTosha is a Black woman with long amber dreadlocks. She is wearing a black and white patterned dress, silver hoop earrings and silver bangle bracelets. She is standing in a conference room surrounded by sheets of paper with brainstorming notes. Her hands are on the table in an active stance and she is looking at the camera.
LaTosha Brown

The keynote speaker for this year’s lecture (held virtually) was LaTosha Brown, award-winning visionary thought leader, institution builder, cultural activist and artist, and connector. She is a nationally recognized “go-to” expert in Black Voting Rights and Voter Suppression, Black Women’s Empowerment and Philanthropy.

Her voice is the nexus between the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Power Movement, and Black Lives Matter.

“There is power in my voice! It is a divine gift that I use to connect different worlds. I bridge the philanthropy world to the grassroots community, traditional politics to grassroots politics, and practitioners to the scholarship of movement building.”

LaTosha is the Co-Founder of Black Voters Matter Fund and Black Voters Matter Capacity Building Institute. These initiatives are designed to boost Black voter registration and turnout, as well as increase power in marginalized, predominantly Black communities.

LaTosha is also the Visionary, Founder and Co-Anchor of a regional network called the Southern Black Girls & Women’s Consortium. This is $100 million, 10-year initiative to invest in organizations that serve Black women and girls. The goal of the consortium is to create a new approach to philanthropy by allowing every component of the program, inception to execution, to be created by Black girls and women in the South.

Ms. Brown is also the 2020 Hauser Leader at the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School, the 2020 Leader in Practice at Harvard Kennedy School’s Women and Public Policy Program, and a 2020-2021 American Democracy fellow at the Charles Warren Center at Harvard.

LaTosha has worked in 23 different countries to include Kenya, Guyana, and Brazil. Her next mission involves resourcing and empowering women across the Diaspora. “I don’t want women to be seen as victims; they are the problem solvers for the world. I am convinced that Black Women are going to liberate the world!”

Ms. Brown has received numerous awards and accolades for her work. She has been featured on ABC, CBS, CNN, Democracy Now, and PBS. Her Op-Eds have been showcased in the New York TimesPolitico and Essence. Her work has also been highlighted in several docuseries: What’s Eating America?,  American Swamp, and Finding Justice.

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