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Dec. 13, 2007 – Renowned author and scholar Cornel West will present the keynote address at the 24th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration at the University of Utah.

West, who is the Class of 1943 University Professor of Religion at Princeton University, has been described as one of America’s most vital and eloquent intellectuals. A noted philosopher, he has taken his struggle for racial equity to the national spotlight, providing a gifted and stimulating voice to the ongoing debate.

West has authored 17 groundbreaking and thought-provoking books – including “Race Matters” and “Democracy Matters” – that have changed the course of discussion on race, justice, and democracy. West will speak at noon MST on Jan. 17, 2008 at Olpin Union Ballroom, University of Utah. The presentation is free and open to the public.

“Over the years, the University of Utah has hosted many prominent speakers who have shared their wisdom and insights during our annual MLK Celebration,” says Octavio Villalpando, the university’s associate vice president for diversity. “Professor Cornel West now extends this impressive list with his forthcoming visit as our 2008 MLK keynote lecturer, and comes at a very important juncture in our university’s history. The state of Utah is in the midst of unprecedented demographic shifts that will offer many more opportunities for our university to help shape and improve the educational success of historically underserved communities. West’s visit will provide our collective university communities with critical insight in how we might engage the many opportunities ahead for our state.” Previous MLK Celebration speakers include renowned scholars such as Angela Davis, Michael Eric Dyson, Carlos Munoz, Jr., Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Jr., Evelyn Hu-DeHart, and Morris Dees.

“I am extremely pleased that Cornel West has accepted the university’s invitation to deliver this year’s Martin Luther King, Jr. address,” adds Michael L. Hardman, dean of the College of Education at the University of Utah. “He has been a champion of racial justice since childhood and is clearly one of America’s most informed and provocative public intellectuals. Like Professor West, the College of Education believes that ‘race matters’ in all aspects of our lives. We anticipate a very engaging intellectual event in which everyone will take away new and very valuable ideas for now and into the future.”

Robert Newman, the university’s associate vice president of interdisciplinary studies and dean of humanities, notes: “For two decades, Cornel West has been among the most influential, diverse, and bold scholars in American higher education and as a public intellectual. His many contributions dwell within the multiple intersections between race and ethnic studies, religion, pragmatism, Marxism, rap, and political justice. In all of his work and in his many public presentations, he challenges his audiences to question their cultural, political, and class assumptions, encouraging them to embrace perspectives that might expand justice and equity throughout our society.”

The 24th Annual University of Utah Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration begins on Jan. 14 and runs through Jan. 21, 2008. All events are free and open to the public. For a full list of MLK 2008 events please visit, or contact the office of the associate vice president for diversity, at (801) 581-7569.