Keisha Lance Bottoms to Keynote W&L’s 2024 MLK Celebration Bottoms, the former mayor of Atlanta, will headline the weeklong programming on campus.
Washington and Lee University will celebrate the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a weeklong series of events featuring a keynote address by Keisha Lance Bottoms, the former mayor of Atlanta.
Bottoms’ talk will occur at 6 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 15, in the Lenfest Center’s Keller Theatre. The talk is free and open to the public.
A visionary leader in bringing equitable outcomes to the forefront of government and commerce, Bottoms was sworn in as the 60th mayor of Atlanta on Jan. 2, 2018. Her four-year term occurred during one of the most challenging times in the city’s history, and she successfully led her constituents through a global pandemic while also navigating a racial justice movement.
Bottoms led her administration to undertake numerous initiatives aimed at eradicating systemic issues facing the city, becoming a model for other cities to follow. These efforts included attracting nine Fortune 500 companies to establish global or regional headquarters in Atlanta, adding billions of dollars to the city’s economic output; revamping the city’s jail policies to prioritize rehabilitation; taking action against the federal government to ensure all federal agents were required to wear body cameras; adding affordable housing; financing city infrastructure projects; establishing diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives; increasing governmental transparency; establishing additional emergency and police services; and ensuring that Atlanta’s historical inequities were respectfully remembered.
Her steadfast leadership and equity-focused philosophy have led to numerous leadership positions, including senior advisor and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. She also served as chair of the Community Development and Housing Committee, the Census Task Force for the U.S. Conference of Mayors and trustee for the African American Mayor’s Association. Furthermore, Bottoms was selected to chair the Platform Committee for the 2020 Democratic National Convention (DNC), and she serves as the DNC’s vice chair of civic engagement and voter protection.
Bottoms was named the 2020 Georgian of the Year by Georgia Trend magazine. She was selected as one of Glamour magazine’s 2020 Women of the Year and was named to Ebony magazine’s prestigious Power 100 List for 2018.
An attorney by trade, Bottoms was raised in Atlanta and traces her family’s roots to a Georgian slave plantation. She received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida A&M University and later earned a juris doctor from the Georgia State University College of Law.
The university’s MLK Commemorative Planning Committee and The Class of 1994 Office of Inclusion and Engagement at Washington and Lee University offer a special thanks to the Office of the President, Office of the Provost, The Institute for Honor, Washington and Lee University School of Law, Student Activities, the History Department, the Division of Student Affairs and Virginia Military Institute’s Office of Diversity, Opportunity, & Inclusion for their support of the 2024 events.
Please refer to the Class of 1994 Office of Inclusion and Engagement programs and events website in the coming weeks for updated links and information related to W&L’s 2024 MLK Celebration, including registration and livestream links.
Celebrating the Life and Legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Sunday, Jan. 14
2 p.m. | SABU Basketball Tournament
Doremus and Holekamp Gymnasiums
The Student Association for Black Unity (SABU) will host its annual MLK Day Basketball Tournament. This 3-on-3 tournament allows the community to come together for some friendly competition while raising money for charity. Teams consist of three players, with a $10 registration fee per player. Registrations are accepted up until the day of competition. The winning team will take home a $50 prize for each member of the team. All proceeds will assist SABU with the BlackFLEX Conference and Black Ball to be held on Feb. 3.
Monday, Jan. 15
11 a.m.-1 p.m. | Children’s Celebration in honor of Dr. King’s Birthday
Children of the Lexington and Rockbridge County community are invited to attend a birthday celebration in honor of Dr. King. There will be games, face painting, and arts and crafts. As part of the celebration, attendees will be making gift bags to donate to local organizations. This activity is appropriate for people of all ages interested in a community service project. Cake, snacks and punch will be provided.
1 p.m., 1:45 p.m., 2:30 p.m. | Martin Luther King Day Tea Ceremony
W&L Tea Room
Join the W&L Tea Society in honoring the legacy of Dr. King with a tea ceremony demonstration. There are three 30-minute sessions limited to 20 participants. Registration is required. Please fill out a separate registration entry for each member of your party. Since seating is limited to 20 participants per session and there is no automated wait list, be sure to cancel your reservation if your plans change. Register at https://calendly.com/mwlu/tea_mlk24 and visit the website at tearoom.wlu.edu
6 p.m. | MLK Keynote Speaker: Keisha Lance Bottoms
Lenfest Center, Keller Theatre
W&L will host Keisha Lance Bottoms. She will present her remarks as the featured speaker for our 2024 MLK Week. Remember to reserve your in-person ticket or register for the Zoom webinar.
Wednesday, Jan. 17
6 p.m. | Reflections on the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The MLK Reflections event allows community members to gather to reflect on the lessons of Dr. King’s life and work. Each year, a range of leaders from both the W&L campus community and the Lexington community offer a brief commentary on their views of Dr. King’s legacy, and what Dr. King has meant to that individual, to our community, to our students, to our country or to our world – the possibilities are endless. This event is open to the public, and a meal will be provided. Please remember to RSVP!
Thursday, Jan. 18
5 p.m. | Screen to Square Screening of the film ‘Till’
The Screen to Square film series will show the film “Till,” which focuses heavily on Emmett Till’s mother, Mamie. A discussion will follow the film, and refreshments will be provided. For questions, please contact Sandy Sibold at DelaneyCenter@wlu.edu or 5490458-8027.
Friday, Jan. 19
6 p.m. | MLK Shabbat
W&L Hillel and the Class of 1994 Office of Inclusion and Engagement invite all members of the W&L and Lexington community to join us for a Shabbat dinner and service honoring the life and legacy of Dr. King. We will gather at 6 p.m. in the Hillel Sanctuary. Seating is limited so please register in advance.
Saturday, Jan. 20
7 p.m. | African Society Fashion Show and Dance
W&L’s African Society will host its annual African Society Fashion Show and Dance. Come see fashion from all around the continent of Africa and enjoy African-inspired dances. Don’t forget to RSVP!
Sunday, Jan. 21
8 p.m. | MLK Concert
Back for the first time since before the pandemic, join with us as we honor Dr. King’s contributions to America with the wonderful Lexington tradition of the Martin Luther King Jr. Remembrance Concert. Readings of speeches and poems by Dr. King, Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes and many others become interspersed with musical reflections performed by the W&L University Singers, Cantatrici, and the Glee Club. Be there for the renewal of this powerful annual W&L tradition.