Martin Luther King, Jr. Series


Each year RISD hosts the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Series (MLK Series) as a means of providing the RISD and local communities with meaningful moments of service, reflection, self development, inspiration and celebration. A collaborative production between the student organization Global Initiative, the Office of the Provost and the MLK Series Planning Committee, the 2016–17 series features:

Emory Douglas
 2016–17 MLK Keynote + Honoree   
Friday January 20 2017 

An artist, educator and human rights activist, Emory Douglas served as the Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party from 1967-80. Best known for his political drawings and cartoons in the Black Panther Newspaper, he articulated the injustices experienced by African Americans living in the inner city, the growing militancy and organization among urban black youth in the face of police violence and the need for community-based social programs. His use of rich colors, dark edging and photos of everyday black people to make collages created an authentic style that expressed the ideological platform of the Black Panthers and the heightened community consciousness of Black Power as a political concept. The book Black Panther: The Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas presents a collection of his work.

Douglas also worked as a layout artist and graphic designer for the San Francisco-based Sun Reporter Publishing Company for 21 years before retiring in 2005. Still based in San Francisco, he continues to work with many community-based organizations and dedicates his artwork to issues of social justice and health. 

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MLK-17-reya-300 MLK-17-marc-300  

Diversity Fellows!

Issues-based Investigations of Culture and Community  
Wednesday October 12 2016
 5:30 pm | RISD Auditorium


DIVERSITY FELLOWS! – Reya Sehgal and Marc Boucai – is a critical camp collaborative interested in interrogating aspects of (their) Americanness. Aimed at blurring the lines between performance, politics and the presentation of self in everyday life, the FELLOWS use race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class and more as both lenses and performed identities to produce genre-blurring pieces that refer to pop-cultural tropes, critical theory and queer performance tactics, creating chaotic environments out of seemingly simplistic interactive structures: green card interviews, diversity workshops, make-up appointments, karaoke. 

The FELLOWS are grounded in performance training from L’Ecole Internationale de Jacques le Coq and the American Conservatory Theater, and educated in queer theory, postcolonial theory, performance studies and public humanities from UC Berkeley and Brown University.

At RISD they will lead three one-hour sessions for students on Cultural Appropriation, Aesthetics and Identity-based Art Practices and Engagement with Local Communities. Please register here in advance.

More about the MLK Series

The MLK keynote address serves as the centerpiece of the MLK Series and aims to highlight the role of creative endeavor in advancing democracy and equity. The lecture honors the vast contributions of Dr. King toward creating a more just and democratic society and acknowledges an individual whose legacy of service and commitment to justice has made an indelible difference. 

Past MLK honorees and keynote speakers include ambassador and diplomat Andrew Young (2016), artist Faith Ringgold (2016), actor / humanitarian Danny Glover (2015), children’s advocate Marian Wright Edelman (2014), artist / activist Harry Belafonte (2013); writer/activist Angela Davis (2012); nonviolence strategist Dr. Bernard Lafayette  (2006); and scholar Bakari Kitwana (2005).


MLK Series identity: FAVOR Design / Douglas photo by Sean Roberts  / biographical sources: Black Panther: The Revolutionary Artwork of Emory Douglas (Rizolli, 2007), Liberation, Imagination, and the Black Panther Party (Routledge, 2001),

MLK 2016–17 events

Wednesday, October 12 | Diversity Fellows! | Issues-based Investigations of Culture and Community, workshops for students, 5:30–8:30 pm

Thursday, January 12 | ISMS: Exploring the Intersectionality of Identity, an exhibition throughout campus

Saturday, January 14  | MLK celebration dinner, 5–6:30 pm

Saturday, January 14  | MLK celebration concert, 6:30–8 pm

Monday, January 16 | MLK Day of Service, 8:30 am–2:30 pm

Thursday, January 19 ISMS: A Conversation about Identity, a public critique panel of the student exhibit ISMS: Exploring the Intersectionality of Identity, featuring Emory Douglas 

Friday, January 20 | Keynote Lecture: Emory Douglas, 7 pm | ticket information available closer to the event, which will also be simulcast


previous MLK series coverage
Providence's riverfront park offers a great setting for drawing and sketching, just across from RISD's Mandle Center for
Living and Learning.