UAFS to Host Virtual MLK Panel

An historic photo of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., speaking to a crowdThe University of Arkansas – Fort Smith will commemorate the legacy of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with an online panel discussion, open to anyone who wishes to participate, at 9:30 a.m. Monday, Jan. 18.


“Human Rights in a Time of Crisis: A Virtual Conversation” was inspired by Dr. King’s quote, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at the time of challenge and controversy.” The event is organized by the Democracy Project at UAFS. 


“Despite the current environment forcing the cancelation of our traditional MLK Week events, we look forward to continuing the UAFS tradition of celebrating, in a safe and responsible way, Dr. King’s legacy through an emphasis on human rights, non-violence, and unity,” said Dr. Williams Yamkam, assistant professor of political science and Chair of the Democracy Project at UAFS.


Panelists will include:

Danny Baker, Fort Smith Police Chief, who will discuss protecting and serving during moments of turmoil;

Jay Richardson, State Representative, District 78, talking about bills he has introduced on human rights matters;

Rita Howard Watkins, public defender, discussing her dedication to represent the rights of those who cannot afford a lawyer;

Reverend Sonna B. Key, founding member of Police and Community Engagement (PACE), speaking on her role in bringing together the Fort Smith Police Department and the community; and

Mayra Esquivel, activist with Arkansas Immigration Defense, explaining the work she does representing immigrants.


The conversation will be moderated by Paul Davis, senior pastor for St. James Missionary Baptist Church.


In addition to the online conversation, the Boreham Library on the UAFS campus will have a book display throughout the week featuring selected works pertaining to civil rights. 


This will be the 10th year UAFS has collaborated with community members and organizations to honor and celebrate Dr. King.


In October 1964 Dr. King received the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolence. He was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal posthumously. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, slated this year for Jan. 18, was established as a U.S. federal holiday in 1986.


To register for the virtual discussion, visit:


For more information, contact Yamkam at 479-788-7981 or



Date Posted: 
Friday, January 15, 2021
Source URL:
Story ID: