Since 1986, America has celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through observances that teach, excite, and inspire the next generation of leaders.

From 1999-2005, Southeast Missouri State University held a memorial breakfast to honor Dr. King. In 2006, King's eldest son, Martin Luther King III, was invited to be the keynote speaker for the first campus celebration dinner. The 2006 dinner initiated a new tradition that continues to garner growing involvement by students, faculty, staff, alumnae, and community members from the southeast Missouri region and beyond.   

Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration

Each year, Southeast honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a celebratory dinner featuring a guest speaker to share their story and diversity and acceptance.

2022 Theme:

CommUNITY: Justice. Equity. Love.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration
Wednesday, January 26, 2022
Show Me Center

Doors open at 5 p.m. and the program begins at 6 p.m.
2022 MENU

About the Speaker 

The Honorable Brian S. Miller

Brian S. Miller was sworn in as a United States District Court Judge for the Eastern
District of Arkansas on April 18, 2008, and served as chief judge from 2012 to 2019. Before
joining the federal bench, Judge Miller served as an associate judge on the Arkansas Court
of Appeals.

Judge Miller was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas and raised in Helena, Arkansas. He
entered the United States Navy seventeen days after graduating from Helena-West Helena
Central High School and served as a boatswains mate on the battleship U.S.S. New Jersey
from 1985 to 1989. Upon being honorably discharged, Judge Miller enrolled at Phillips
College where he received an Associate of Arts Degree in 1991. He graduated with honors
from the University of Central Arkansas with a Bachelor of Science Degree in 1992. He
received his law degree from Vanderbilt Law School in 1995.

After law school, Judge Miller was associated with Martin, Tate, Morrow & Marston,
P.C. in Memphis, Tennessee. While practicing part-time with Martin Tate, he served as city
judge for Holly Grove, Arkansas; city attorney for the cities of Helena, Lakeview and
Edmondson, Arkansas; deputy prosecuting attorney for Phillips County, Arkansas; legal
counsel for the Helena-West Helena School District; and legal counsel for the East Arkansas
Family Health Center in West Memphis, Arkansas.

Judge Miller chairs the Judicial Conference of the United States Committee on
Judicial Resources. He has also chaired the Subcommittee on Judicial Statistics and has
served on the Eighth Circuit Judicial Council. He is president of the Centennial Church
Foundation and is a member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Helena. He is married to
Monique and has four children, Adrianne, Alexandria, Brian David, and Eliza.

MLK Celebration Past Speakers

Since 2006, celebrated guest speakers have come to Southeast Missouri State University to honor the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, the first being King's eldest son, Martin Luther King III. Check out some of our other previous speakers.

Each year, the Martin Luther King, Jr (MLK) Celebration Planning Committee plans, organizes, and executes the annual dinner as well as other campus and community-wide activities on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.   

MLK Planning Committee members include faculty and staff from various colleges and departments across campus. The committee also includes Graduate Assistants from the Office of Institutional Equity & Diversity and the LGBTQ+ Resource Center, students involved in the TRIO/Student Support Services Program, the MLK Scholars, and a representative from the Student Government Association (SGA).   

The MLK Co-Chairs are appointed by the Provost and serve two years appointments.  

MLK Planning Committee Members Title
Dr. Melissa Odegard-Koester, chair
Interim Dean, College of Humanities & Social Sciences
Michelle Irby  Director, Campus Life & Event Services 
Dr. Joseph Jefferson  Assistant Professor, of Trombone/Euphonium and Director of Jazz Studies
Trae Mitten Associate Dean of Students for Student Advocacy & Support
Dana Saverino
Creative Strategy Project Manager, Marketing and Communications
Dr. Shonta Smith  Chair/Associate Professor Elementary, Early & Special Education 
Tammy Underwood  Executive Assistant, VP, Equity, Access, & Behavioral Health/Dean of Students
Tonya Wells  Director, Marketing and Communications 
Dr. Victor Wilburn  Chair, Child & Family Studies 
Valdis Zalite  Director, TRIO Programs 


Student Committee Members
Sumaiya Mahmud Chris Griffen
Neosha Smith Tatianna Hanna
Kenise Marie Hoard Sheanique Syms
Layla Bouzihay Joshua Nelson
Nur-E-Afra Anika Ahmed Salehin


Special Projects Title
Ms. Taylor Johnson  Events Supervisor, Show Me Center 
Mr. Ken Gullett  Lieutenant, DPS 
Ms. Chistie McIntosh  Catering Director, Chartwells  
Mr. Kevin Yarbrough  Senior Campus Executive Chef, Chartwells  

Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration

Thank you for your interest in attending this celebratory dinner! If you would like to purchase a ticket, table or sponsorship, please select one of the following options.

Academic Hall 010 - 011
Mailing Address
One University Plaza, MS 3375
Cape Girardeau, Missouri 63701