City of Independence, Missouri

Independence looks forward to Annual Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration on Jan. 17

The City of Independence will join the Community of Concerned Citizens for the annual Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Celebration at 7 p.m. on Jan. 17, 2022, at the Truman Memorial Building.


The theme for this year's event is "Where do we go from here?" The celebration will feature a keynote speech by Kylar W. Broadus, a black, transgender man that has been a pioneer in the movement as an attorney, activist, public speaker, author and professor.


"I admire him, because he's educated, he knows who he is and he's not ashamed of it," said Nancy Harris, who's helped organized the event since its first year. "He's not afraid to fight for his civil rights and the rights of others, and we are grateful and excited he accepted to be our keynote speaker."


A Fayette, Missouri, native, Broadus has enjoyed a prolific career as an activist, writer, lawyer, professor and public speaker. Among his many accomplishments are several awards, recognitions and national organizational affiliations.


He was awarded the Trans Trailblazer Award by the LGBT Bar Association of Los Angeles in 2019. He was featured by Mastercard in 2018 for Pride Month. He stood with former President Barack Obama as the president signed the executive order adding protections for millions of workers in 2014.


This year marks the 35th year for the MLK Celebration event, which is aimed at keeping the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr. alive in Independence. Harris said the fight for Civil Rights is still very much alive today.


"We only want the best for the future generations to move forward socially and spiritually and make it a better place for generations to come," she said of this year's theme.


During the celebration, the winning essay of the $300 John Olivarez Scholarship essay contest will also be presented. The winning essay has been written on the same theme as the event.