Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Dinner

IUPUI faculty, students, and staff have shared a tradition with the Indianapolis community since 1970, honoring the memory of slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a day of activities. The day, an official campus holiday, includes a number of events throughout the day, capped by the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dinner, the longest-running celebration honoring King in Indianapolis. The dinner attracts sell-out crowds to commemorate King's goals and dreams and to hear nationally renowned speakers. Past speakers include the famed American poet Maya Angelou; Benjamin Hooks, former director of the NAACP; former Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm; Hollywood actor and director Bill Duke; nationally syndicated columnist William Raspberry; and the scholar Henry Louis Gates. The Black Student Union with the Black Faculty and Staff Council present awards to outstanding faculty, students, and a community organization at the dinner.

IUPUI joins a national effort to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by making this national holiday a day on rather than a day off. Since classes are not in session, students, faculty, and staff participate in a half-day service project in the local community. A kick-off breakfast is followed by team service projects that may include painting and general clean-up, assisting with a youth basketball clinic, or preparing a low-income home for renovation. Students and student groups may also apply for mini-grants to fund special service projects to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  In 2010, over 500 people from IUPUI and the Indianapolis community participated in service to 23 service organizations.

Campus Partner Letter

Dear Campus Partners,

The Black Student Union at IUPUI has sponsored the largest event on IUPUI’s campus, the Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Dinner, for 49 years. This year, we will continue to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy by hosting an evening of celebration and empowerment on Sunday, January 14, 2018, at 6:00pm in the Indiana Roof Ballroom located in downtown Indianapolis at 140 West Washington Street. 

Over the years, we have been honored to benefit from the words of wisdom of a variety of well-known speakers who discuss the civil rights issues of equality, freedom, justice and opportunity. This year will be no different. Our keynote speaker this year will be Opal Tometi. Opal is a Nigerian American trategist, writer and community organizer and a cofounder of #BlackLivesMatter, a historic political project and network launched to combat structural racism. Tometi is credited with initiating the online platforms and social media strategy during the project’s inception. A millennial trailblazer, Tometi is widely respected for her creativity and bold leadership. At age 28, she became the executive director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) –the United States’ only national immigrant rights organization for Black people. There, she has a track record of successful campaigns that have advanced migrant rights and racial justice. Tometi has been active in social movements for nearly 15 years. She is currently being featured in the Smithsonian’s new National Museum for African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) for her catalytic contributions to modern day social movements.

We would like to invite you to participate in this memorable event. Enclosed is price information on several sponsorship opportunities, which include advertising opportunities in the souvenir booklet, table purchasing information, and ticket sponsoring information. 

For additional information, please contact Dr. Khalilah Shabazz, at

Thank you in advance for your support!


MLK Dinner Committee

  Tickets Sold Out!  

Thank you for your interest in the 2018 MLK Dinner.  Tickets are no longer available for sale.  Email to be added to the waitlist for tickets that might be donated to the Multicultural Center for distribution.  There is NO guarantee of a dinner ticket.  Limited to one per person.

Previous Speakers

1990Maya Angelou
1991Na'im Akbar
1992Shirley Chisholm
1993Bill Duke
1994Z. Mae Jimison
1995Nathan McCall
1996Dorothy Cotton
1997Samuel Proctor
1998Benjamin Hooks
1999Lea Williams
2000Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
2001Tavis Smiley
2002Minnijean Brown-Trickey
2003Roslyn McCallister Brock
2004Benjamin Carson
2005Kevin Powell
2006Mae Jemison
2007Christopher Edley, Jr.
2008Nikki Giovanni
2009Jeff Johnson
2010Nontombi Naomi Tutu
2011Kevin D. Brown
2012Elaine Brown
2013Bobby Seale
2014Jasmine Guy
2015Marc Lamont Hill
2016Angela Davis
2017Cornell William Brooks
2018Opal Tometi

For More Information, Contact:

Khalilah A. Shabazz, Ph.D.
Director of the Multicultural Center