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MLK Day keynote speaker Dr. Reo Leslie Jr. will anchor community celebration events

Like the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., Dr. Reo Leslie Jr. is an ordained pastor in the Baptist denomination. Also like King, Leslie has a diverse repertoire of attributes and skills that make him an effective advocate for people. His titles include pastor, CEO, teacher, professional counselor, expert witness, activist, public servant, husband and father. On January 20, 2020 Leslie will speak in the Love Recital Hall at Colorado Mesa University at 5:30pm. His message will focus on the common ground he shares philosophically with Dr. King. This common ground is shared through the lens of Leslie's experience as a counselor, community mentor and mental health expert.

To begin the day of celebration, Dr. Leslie will join CMU students for lunch and will present his lecture, How Future Leaders Can Make MLK’s Dream Come Alive. Following the work session, Leslie will travel to Grand Junction City Hall where he will join the city council in adopting a proclamation celebrating the legacy of King.

“MLK Day is a chance for city council to join CMU in a celebration that unites the values of Americans from all walks of life,” said Mayor of Grand Junction Rick Taggert. “Martin Luther King Jr. communicated a message that all thoughtful and loving Americans revere. I am proud to participate in this annual event.”

After the proclamation, Leslie will join local MLK Day supporters, students and volunteers in a march from City Hall to CMU. The walk is meant to commemorate the famous march on Washington that came to embody the life and legacy of King. In 2019 CMU President Tim Foster introduced the event and conducted a question and answer dialogue with 2019 MLK Day keynote speaker and national civil rights leader Nita Mosby Tyler.

"The symbolic march to campus on MLK Day has become an annual tradition that represents what we are all about at CMU," said Foster. "Last year Nita Mosby Tyler inspired our campus to make a better world. This year, I am proud to host and sponsor the MLK Day celebration event once again and continue the discussion about equality of opportunity with Dr. Leslie."

CMU Vice President for Student Services John Marshall oversees the event each year as the department he manages sponsors the annual celebration. In 2019, Marshall hosted an on stage question and answer session with King Foundation speaker and teacher Stephon Ferguson. Ferguson recently visited Colorado Mesa University to commemorate the I Have a Dream speech – an oratory performance by King that remains among the most famous and influential speeches in world history.

“Dr. Leslie is a unique voice in the civil rights space in that he blends pastoral care, psychology, activism and advocacy into a single life mission,” said Marshall. “President Foster has always prioritized bringing important programming to campus on this day. We are honored to have Dr. Leslie at CMU and I look forward to speaking with him on stage.”

Leslie will complete his time at CMU with the culmination of MLK Day events in a keynote address called, “Overcoming the Sociocultural Factors Associated with Power and Privilege in Higher Education; How to Make Room for Everyone at the Table.” In his remarks Leslie plans to identify how the future can be made better for all people who seek higher education in America.

Leslie founded the Colorado School for Family Therapy in 1995 providing clinicians with the necessary education to become skilled therapists and leaders in their field. Prior to events at CMU, Leslie will join local business leaders and community organizer David Combs, and the local MLK planning committee, in a series of events that will take place throughout the community celebrating Dr. King.

Supporters of CMU’s MLK Day events are able to sponsor future programming by contacting the CMU Foundation.


Written by David Ludlam