In May of 1988, at the request of Wittenberg President William Kinnison, a committee on Interracial and Multicultural Awareness was formed to make recommendations for an ongoing program to promote better communication and understanding among all members of the Wittenberg community. The need for this intensive review resulted from an increasing ethnic diversity of students enrolling at Wittenberg, a growing national problem of insensitivity, and the university's desire to provide the most effective setting to facilitate interaction and communication among all members of the Wittenberg community.
When the report and recommendations of this committee were received in February 1989, the establishment of an annual event commemorating the life and accomplishments of Martin Luther King Jr. presented itself as an appropriate way to reaffirm the university's commitment to addressing both racism and the problems of an increasingly multiracial/multicultural community. In January 1990, the Wittenberg Series featured Mary Frances Berry as Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Lecturer; subsequently, the university faculty voted April 10, 1990 "That, in observance of Martin Luther King Day at Wittenberg, there shall be an academic convocation which shall be addressed by a nationally recognized leader of the African American community or of the Civil Rights Movement. This convocation, which will be open to the general public, shall be held annually, commencing in 1991."
The faculty also voted not to cancel classes on these occasions but rather to adjust the academic schedule to accommodate not only the formal convocation but also colloquia and other appropriate gatherings for reflection, discussion and consideration of issues pertaining to civil rights.
Since 1991, Wittenberg has invited many distinguished speakers for the King Convocation. In 2003, we were inspired by Julian Bond, Chairman of the Board of the NAACP.