Academy Award Winner Gives Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture

Kevin Willmott shares earlier history of ‘Becoming Martin’
Kevin Willmott giving the Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture

Academy Award winner Kevin Willmott was the guest speaker for this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture.

Willmott, the writer of critically acclaimed films such as “CSA: The Confederate States of America,” “Chi-Raq” and “BlacKKKlansman,” spoke about how a young sociology student would become the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Tamara Falicov, dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, was excited to welcome back her long-time colleague for the 15th instance of this annual campus event.

“Kevin is an inspired filmmaker, with a collaborative spirit and dedication to this region,” Falicov said.

Based on the research conducted for his play “Becoming Martin,” Willmott shared the little-told history of King as a college student and the people around him, especially the minister Benjamin Mays and King’s own father, who inspired him to create a legacy that has inspired so many others.

“Anybody who achieves anything, it’s always about the people who helped you along the way,” Willmott said.

Students across UMKC came out to hear Willmott speak.

“I had heard of him as a filmmaker,” said Elliott Smith, an urban planning and economics student. “It’s great how he extrapolated the history to reflect the culture of the time and made it relatable.”

“I was impacted, as a younger listener, how he compared the tragedies of the 60s to modern tragedies we have experienced in our time,” said Taylor Trudell, a student in environmental science“The examples really put it all in perspective for how to get stuff done.”

The full lecture is available to watch online.

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