Golden Globe-nominated actress Issa Rae and “Democracy Now!” host Amy Goodman will deliver the 31st Annual Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium keynote memorial lecture.

Amy Goodman

Issa Rae

This year’s keynote event will focus on a sit-down discussion between Rae and Goodman. It will take place at 10 a.m. Jan. 16 at Hill Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

Lumas Helaire, associate director of the Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives, said the symposium honors King’s work as a strategist and the many others who worked and still work for social justice.

“This year, as we celebrate King’s life and U-M’s bicentennial, we want to highlight that change agents think critically through dialogue,” said Helaire, the chair of the MLK Symposium Planning Committee.

“To that aim, we moved away from highlighting one keynote speaker to shaping the space for two with Amy Goodman and Issa Rae. Both of them use their platforms to have and evoke dialogue in a variety of ways. The way forward is not to simply speak or to listen, but rather dialogue with each other.”  

Among her many accomplishments, Rae is the Golden Globe-nominated actress, writer, producer and creator of the hit HBO show “Insecure,” a comedy series that explores the black female experience.

Rae is also known for creating and starring in the hit comedy web series “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl,” which received the 2012 Shorty Award for Best Web Show. Her 2015 book, named after the same web series, is a New York Times bestseller.

Rae’s work has earned more than 23 million views and 200,000 subscribers on YouTube. She was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list and made Glamour magazine’s 35 under 35 list.

The comedian has also worked on web content for Pharrell Williams, Tracey Edmonds and many others.

Goodman is an award-winning investigative journalist, author and syndicated columnist. She is the host and executive producer for “Democracy Now!,” a national, daily, independent news program that centers on providing viewers with perspectives they may not be able to find at other outlets.

“Democracy Now!” reports on a variety of topics, including racism and civil rights, labor issues, social movements, foreign policy and U.S. politics.

Goodman has co-authored several books, including “Democracy Now!: Twenty Years Covering the Movements Changing America,” “The Silenced Majority: Stories of Uprisings, Occupations, Resistance and Hope” and “Static: Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders and the People Who Fight Back.”

Among her many awards and recognitions, Goodman received an I.F. Stone lifetime achievement award from the Nieman Foundation and the inaugural “Izzy Award” from the Park Center for Independent Media. She also earned the Right Livelihood Award “for developing an innovative model of truly independent political journalism that brings to millions of people the alternative voices that are often excluded by mainstream media.”

Her radio reporting has earned several accolades, including the George Polk Award, the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Silver Baton and the Robert F. Kennedy Prize for International Reporting.

The theme for this year’s symposium is “Sounds of Change.” Organizers hope the activities and discussions offered throughout the symposium lend themselves to action.

“The symposium is not only about celebrating activism,” Helaire said. “It also supports our community members in building their skill and commitment toward social justice. We want courageous dialogue to lead to critical action within and outside of the university.”

The keynote memorial lecture is sponsored by the Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the Bicentennial Office, and the Stephen M. Ross School of Business, with support from the William K. McInally Memorial Lecture Fund.