Wes Moore and Mr and Mrs Vargas

The Annual Martin Luther King, Jr Celebration Dinner held on January 20th

Wes Moore, acclaimed author, veteran, Rhodes Scholar and host of “Beyond Belief” on the Oprah Winfrey Network was the keynote speaker at the Annual Martin Luther King Celebration Dinner on January 20th at the Show Me Center.   Nearly 1000 Southeast faculty, staff and students, along with community members from Cape Girardeau, St. Louis, Memphis, TN and surrounding areas turned out to see Mr. Moore give the 11th annual keynote in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

The theme for this year’s event, “Living Beyond Life’s Expectations” was eloquently and passionately addressed by Moore. He shared how the sudden, unexpected death of his father, his mother’s decision to move from Baltimore to the Bronx in New York City to be closer to her parents and to receive support in raising the then 4 year old Wes and his 2 sisters, changed the course of his life.  Mr. Moore described how his first arrest at age 11, eventually led his mother to make the decision to send him to military school at age 14. Moore’s New York Times Best-seller, “The Other Wes Moore,” further details the ultimate path his life would take based on his mother’s and other’s expectations of him.

Other speakers on the program for the evening included, Peter Jacobsen, President of the Student Government Association, Mr. Peter Constantinides of Campus Outreach who lead the invocation, Student Representative to the Board of Regents, Austin Cordell, Southeast student, Mercedes McWilliams who introduced the STEP UP Leadership Academy;  a group of 25 youth, ages 9-18 years old from Charleston, Sikeston and other Bootheel communities who performed a dance and step routine, Rev. Renita Lamkin, pastor of St. James AME Church, who provided the Benediction, and Mr. Devin Spears and Company, who wrapped up the evening with a very moving rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

Southeast’s president, Dr. Carlos Vargas also spoke and introduced a video which was produced by Southeast’s University Communications and Marketing in honor of this year’s King celebration. The video featured excerpts from conversations held over a two-week period on the campus. A “talking booth” was set up along Normal Avenue to encourage students to talk with individual members of the African American, LGBT, Caucasian, Latino, Muslim and the Christian communities. Just the presence of this booth was enough to generate passing conversations and the result, was a highly thoughtful, engaging, and rich compilation of more than 40 hours of rich conversations around differences.  The video can be seen at: The Talking Booth


Each year, Southeast Missouri State University is proud to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Please explore this site to see all of the programs and events we offer to those who share our respect and admiration for this man.

If you are interested in making a donation to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship (General Scholarships, EM010), please click here


Black History Month Campus Events
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Dinner
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Resources


Crisp Hall 132
MLK Celebration
One University Plaza, MS 8000
Cape Girardeau, Missouri 63701