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Huston-Tillotson President Excited About The City’s Upcoming Event Commemorating The 60th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” Speech


Austin, Texas – As Melva Wallace, President and Chief Executive Officer at Huston-Tillotson University, contemplates the upcoming event commemorating the 60th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s delivery of his historic “I Have a Dream” speech, she is engrossed by the powerful words he spoke.

Born more than a decade after the iconic civil rights leader stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on that hot August day in 1963, Wallace, though not having experienced those turbulent times herself, feels the profound impact King’s legacy has made in her life and in the lives of countless other Gen Xers.

“When I first heard Dr. King’s speech, though very young, I immediately felt a connection,” Wallace said. “And the more I listened to it, the more connected to it I became. His message of equality, justice and harmony resonated within me; and it was so futuristic that I felt he was speaking directly to me and my generation.

Wallace’s parents, both educators, described vividly the climate in America during the 60s and explained the importance of the civil rights movement to her and her sister Carla, thereby instilling in them the desire to make King’s dream a reality by embracing his philosophies and encouraging others to do the same. Among her many gifts, Wallace’s oratorical skills have been highly praised and even likened to a modern-day female version of King.

She will be one of the panelists speaking after the screening of the “I Have a Dream” speech slated for Friday, August 28th at the Paramount Theater-Austin. The screening of the speech, along with a screening of the film, “Punch 9 for Harold Washington,” will begin at 6:00 p.m. Punch 9 chronicles the captivating rise, surprising reign, and enduring legacy of Chicago’s first African-American Mayor, Harold Washington.

Raymond Lambert, an executive producer of Punch 9, will join Wallace on the panel, along with Dr. Peniel Joseph, associate dean, UT-Austin; and Austin Mayor Kirk Watson.

“The echoes of Dr. King’s words can be clearly heard to this day,” Wallace said. “It is essential that we all do our part to not only hear them and keep them alive, but we must also strive to make his dream a true reality in this country. The dreamer was assassinated, but the dream lives on,” she added. “I am one of countless millions living that dream.”

In an effort to get its student body involved in the celebration, Huston-Tillotson University plans an on-campus screening of the speech, followed by a roundtable, earlier that day. Plans for the event are currently underway.


About Huston-Tillotson University

Huston-Tillotson University, the first institution of learning in Austin, Texas, has roots dating back to 1875. HT is an independent, church-related, historically black, four-year liberal arts institution located on a 23-acre tree-lined campus near downtown in East Austin. Huston-Tillotson University’s mission is to nurture a legacy of leadership and excellence in education, connecting knowledge, power, passion, and values. The University offers associate and master’s degrees in addition to Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in more than 19 areas of study. Huston-Tillotson University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate, baccalaureate and master’s degrees.

For more information, please contact Vickie Jackson (