Native Hawaiian Activist, Performer Is MLK Keynote Speaker

News subtitle

Nominations for the Martin Luther King Social Justice Awards are due Nov. 10.

M. Kalani Souza
M. Kalani Souza, an activist and a minister of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Island cultural traditions, is the 2018 Martin Luther King celebration keynote speaker. (Courtesy of the Olohana Foundation) 

M. Kalani Souza, a minister of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Island cultural traditions and a social justice activist who uses storytelling, music, and performance to promote cross-cultural understanding, will be the keynote speaker for Dartmouth’s 2018 Martin Luther King Jr. celebration.

The announcement comes as the MLK celebration committee issues a call to the global Dartmouth community to nominate candidates for the Social Justice Awards, presented during the MLK celebration at the end of January.

This year, the MLK event organizers ask participants to examine the progress made toward justice since the gathering a year ago, says Evelynn Ellis, vice president for Institutional Diversity and Equity. It is critical to take stock in this time of increasingly divisive politics and growing isolationism, she says.

“If we ever needed to hear the voices of our ancestors—all oppressed groups who gave their lives for the freedoms we deserve—we need to hear their voices deep in our center of consciousness now and take action,” Ellis says.

Souza’s work focuses on cross-cultural integration and collaboration. He is director and founder of the Olohana Foundation, a community development and environmental justice nonprofit working for native and underserved peoples in Hawaii, the U.S. mainland, Alaska, U.S. Virgin Islands, U.S. Pacific Islands, Micronesia, and Mauritius. Souza says he aims with his workshops “to inspire, challenge and entertain the listener while calling all to be their greater self.”

With the announcement of Souza as keynote speaker, MLK celebration organizers are putting out a call for nominees for the 2018 Social Justice Awards, given every year to recognize alumni, faculty, staff, and others connected to the College for significant contributions to social justice.

Four Martin Luther King Jr. Social Justice Awards recognize emerging leadership, ongoing commitment, lifetime achievement, and a student organization, respectively. In addition, the Lester B. Granger ’18 Award is given to an alumnus or alumna for lifetime achievement, and the Holly Fell Sateia Award recognizes faculty and staff who have been leaders in advancing diversity and community.

To nominate a candidate, community members must submit the nomination form by Nov. 10. The awards will be presented at 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 25 in Filene Auditorium. They are sponsored by the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration committee, the Office of Institutional Diversity & Equity, the William Jewett Tucker Center, the Dartmouth Center for Service, and the Geisel School of Medicine.

Other events during this year’s celebration include the William Jewett Tucker Center multi-faith celebration, 26th annual candlelight vigil, public policy discussions at the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy, a film series with Hopkins Center Film, and a performance of Centuries-old Sufi music performed by the Riyaaz Qawwali ensemble at the Hopkins Center for the Arts.

Bill Platt