Ashli Coggins

Staff Writer

“Dr. King is alive and talking to you about the dynamic reality of living history today.” These words were spoken by Juan Williams, a political writer and the keynote speaker of the 48th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Convocation.

The convocation was held Friday, January 15, at 10 a.m. in Jackson State University’s Rose E. McCoy Auditorium. The late Margaret Walker started the yearly tradition of the annual convocation, just nine months after King’s assassination in 1968. More than 1,000 people attend the event each year.


Keynote speaker, Juan Williams, has over three decades of experience in political writing, and has worked with many former presidents such as George H.W. Bush, George Bush, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton. He has also worked with President Barack Obama. He has served as White House Correspondent and has written for many newspapers and magazines. Williams also received many awards for his unique and legit writing styles. In the duration of his career, he has met many respectable authority figures such as Nelson Mandela. Williams is famous for his novel, Eyes on the Prize.

Williams touched many students during his address. He spoke about his novel, which centers around The Civil Rights Movement and the events occurring in our country today. Williams spoke of the lifespan of his novel, saying that it has remained a highly respected document and continues to awe him each day. He said, “The book is alive; the story continues.”

Williams used many events and occurrences in the book as examples when speaking at the convocation. He encouraged students to be great and thoughtful of their actions. He also advised each student to be wise. “People will look to you for leadership and guidance the same way they looked to Dr. King.”

He gave inspiration to each person in attendance. He taught students and other attendees that they shape history. Williams reminded everyone, “You are alive. You got to hold on and thank God for this moment in history and shape it for what you want it to be.”

Many people enjoyed the convocation and were happy to speak of what they learned from the experience. Kenyatta Smith, a sophomore marketing major from Chicago, Illinois said, “Don’t be afraid to tell your story. That’s what I gathered from Dr. Williams’ speech.”

Once the program concluded, Williams stayed behind meeting with and taking pictures with many spectators. Before getting her novel signed by Williams, Eula Mason, Jackson State alumni said, “Today’s comments were right on time to meet the needs for all and presented in a way for all to understand. It is so joyous to me to be able to attend such a wonderful occasion. Everyone in attendance today should have learned something or should have gathered something to take with them from the program today.”