UNC’s MLK Jr. Celebration is part of a campus-wide initiative to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., his legacy and his ideals. Carolina began its celebrations of Dr. King’s life and legacy in 1983, long before there was a federal holiday. UNC is the only university ever awarded the “Making of the King Holiday Award” by the former MLK Federal Holiday Commission. UNC-CH engages in honoring King’s legacy through several efforts: MLK Celebration and Committee; MLK University and Community Corporation; Day of Service and the MLK UNC Scholarship Program for UNC juniors.

D&I hosts this Week of Celebration, which includes the MLK Celebration Banquet, the MLK Lecture, the MLK Unity Dinner, the MLK Unsung Hero Awards, and other events. This year’s theme is “Rise Above” (inspired by MLK’s quote, “We are challenged to rise above the narrow confines of our individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”).

UNCMLK2020 Schedule of Events

Sunday, January 19

University/Community Annual MLK Banquet
Friday Center for Continuing Education
6 p.m. (reception at 5 p.m.)

Tickets: $30
Purchase tickets here

If you require any special accommodations or have specific dietary needs, please contact the University Office for Diversity & Inclusion at or 919-962-6962.

The week begins with the 35th annual University/Community Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Banquet and Award Presentation, hosted by the MLK Jr. Corporation, in partnership with UNC’s Office for Diversity & Inclusion. The MLK University/Community Planning Corporation, a non-profit group founded in 1993, raises scholarship funds for high school students in Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Orange County and UNC students who work to improve the quality of life for everyone in the community. Each year, the Corporation also honors citizens in “recognition of enduring service to humanity by word and by deed” through the Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Citizenship Awards.

This year’s speaker will be Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, the first African American woman in the North Carolina Supreme Court’s 200-year history to serve as Chief Justice. She has been on the state’s highest court since 2012 and was appointed by Governor Cooper to serve as Chief Justice in March of 2019.

Chief Justice Beasley began her judicial career as a district court judge in Cumberland county where she served for a decade before being elected to the Court of Appeals in 2008. Chief Justice Beasley’s commitment to fair and accessible courts extends beyond the halls of justice. She has mentored countless students and judges, lectures at area law schools and travels nationwide and abroad to promote the rule of law, the administration of justice, the importance of an independent judiciary and fair judicial selection.


Please check this space for updates on additional events.

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