Rev. Otis Moss Jr. and Rev. Otis Moss III to speak at UChicago’s MLK commemoration

Rockefeller Chapel to host civil rights leader, pastor during Jan. 28 celebration

Rev. Otis Moss Jr., a civil rights leader who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Rev. Otis Moss III, senior pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, will be the keynote speakers at the University of Chicago’s 30th annual commemoration of Dr. King’s life and legacy.

The Jan. 28 event, which will begin at 6 p.m. at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, also will include a conversation between the speakers and Maurice Charles, dean of Rockefeller Chapel.

The celebration continues UChicago’s rich tradition of prominent MLK commemoration speakers, including Barack Obama, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and educator/activist Angela Davis. Dr. King himself spoke at Rockefeller Chapel twice—first in 1956 and again in 1959—as his national profile grew as a civil rights leader.

“We are honored to have the opportunity to hear from Rev. Moss Jr. and Rev. Moss III, who have dedicated their lives to addressing some of our country’s most pressing challenges. This is an opportunity for the entire campus and broader South Side communities to come together to reflect on the promise of a more just society,” said Melissa Gilliam, vice provost at the University of Chicago and the Ellen H. Block Professor of Health Justice.

A theologian, pastor and civic leader, Moss Jr. has advocated for civil and human rights issues for most of his adult life. A former staff member for King Jr., he was also co-pastor with Rev. Martin Luther King Sr. at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. He currently serves as a national board member and trustee for the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Non-Violent Social Change. His work also took him abroad for the peace treaty signing between Israel and Jordan by President Bill Clinton.

Moss III preaches in the tradition of black theology and consistently speaks to the issues of mass incarceration, environment justice, economic inequality and civil rights. He was the recipient of a 2016 NAACP Image award for his work as founder of Unashamed Media Group, a justice and faith agency, which supports groups and causes including the #BlackLivesMatter and #Occupy movements. 

The event, which is free and open to the public, also will feature music from the Chicago Children’s Choir. A community reception will follow in Ida Noyes Hall.

During the commemoration, UChicago also will recognize this year’s recipients of the Diversity Leadership Awards, which honor faculty, staff and alumni who display leadership in fostering diversity and advance social justice and equity.

In addition, the University Community Service Center, the Laboratory Schools and the Woodlawn Charter High School will host its annual MLK Day of Service on Jan. 18. UChicago students, faculty and staff are invited to participate in projects across the South Side. Find more information or register here.