Legacy/Diversity Forum - Past Speakers
Bernice A. King (Be A King) is the Chief Executive Officer of The King Center, which was founded by her mother, in 1968. She was appointed to this position in January 2012 by the Board of Trustees. Nationally and internationally known as one of the most powerful, motivating and life-changing orators and speakers on the circuit today, Bernice leaves her audiences speechless and challenges people to RAISE THE STANDARD. Born the youngest daughter of the late Coretta Scott King and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Bernice began her oratorical journey when she spoke in her mother’s stead at the United Nations at age 17. Over the years, she has had the occasion to speak in such places as The White House, DuPont Corp., Warner-Lambert Corporation, AT&T, NIKE, USANA Health Sciences, University of Toledo, Xavier University, University of North Carolina, Duke University, Pepperdine University, Department of Defense, Salvation Army, and in such places as Sydney, Australia, Lubeck, Germany, Auckland, New Zealand and South Africa to name a few. In the summer of 2000, she narrated the “Lincoln Portrait” along with a symphony orchestra in Keil, Germany at the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival.
Bernice is a graduate of Spelman College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a Masters of Divinity and Doctorate of Law Degrees from Emory University. She has also received an honorary Doctorate of Divinity degree from Wesley College. She is currently a member of the State Bar of Georgia. On January 30, 2007, the 1st year anniversary of her mother’s death, Bernice returned to her alma-mater at Spelman College to announce the establishment of the “Be A King Scholarship in honor of Coretta Scott King.”
Marion Blumenthal Lazan began speaking publicly about her Holocaust experiences in 1979. Since publication in 1996 of her memoir Four Perfect Pebbles, co-authored by Lila Perl, upwards of one million students and adults, in schools, organizations and houses of worship, in 33 states, Germany and Israel, have heard her moving, first-hand account of the Blumenthal family's life, from events preceding Kristallnacht, to imprisonment in Nazi concentration camps, and finally, to liberation. Marion describes her ordeal in such a manner that the audience is quickly drawn into the drama. The audience is eyewitness to history.
Her presentation goes beyond the facts. She asks her audiences to be tolerant of others, and not stereotype individuals based on religious belief, color, race or national origin. She stresses the importance of positive thinking, as well as creativity and inner strength. She warns her listeners to be true to themselves and not blindly follow a leader. Marion’s story is one of perseverance, determination, faith, and hope.
Jose Antonio Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and filmmaker whose work centers on the changing American identity. He’s written for the New Yorker, Rolling Stone and the Washington Post, where he shared a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the Virginia Tech massacre. He is the founder of Define American, a non-profit media and culture organization that seeks to elevate the conversation around immigration and citizenship in America, and the founder and editor of #EmergingUS, a digital magazine focusing on race, immigration, and identity in a multicultural America that will launch sometime this year.
Marlee Matlin (born 1965) won an Academy Award for her role as Sarah Norman in Children of a Lesser God in 1987. Just 21 years old, Matlin was the youngest performer ever to receive the "best actress" award, as well as the first hearing-impaired person to be given the honor. Since then, Matlin has performed regularly in films and television, and founded her own production company. Marlee Matlin, who pursued a professional acting career despite being legally deaf, is an inspirational role model to many.