Khalil Ekulona, host of WPLN’s ‘This Is Nashville,’ to speak at Vanderbilt’s 2024 MLK Day Commemorative Event

Update as of 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 15

Due to inclement weather, The Nashville MLK Day March this morning has been canceled. The convocation will take place virtually at 9 a.m. today and can be viewed on the Nashville MLK Day Facebook page.

Additionally, the MLK Day Commemorative Event has shifted to a virtual event. You can watch the livestream at 1:30 p.m. on

The Fisk Gymnastics MLK Day Meet at Memorial Gym has also been cancelled. 

Khalil Ekulona, host of the Nashville Public Radio program This Is Nashville, will be the keynote speaker for Vanderbilt University’s 2024 Martin Luther King Jr. Day commemoration. The keynote is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 15, in Sarratt Cinema and is open to the university community. The event also will be livestreamed.

The theme of this year’s MLK Day commemoration is “One Vanderbilt. One Nashville. One Dream.” The theme is a nod to the history of the university, where generations of Nashvillians have come together to learn and serve. As King mentioned in his historic 1963 address at the Lincoln Memorial: “We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.”

Faculty, staff and community members may register here to attend the event. >> 

For students, register here to attend. >>

Ekulona is the current host of WPLN’s noontime show This Is Nashville, a live one-hour daily show driven by community, for community. Ekulona’s topics focus primarily on Nashville and Middle Tennessee news. He recently served as the host and producer of No More Normal, a pandemic-focused radio show at KUNM in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He also served as the co-host of Good Day New Mexico on KOB4 and as a correspondent with New Mexico PBS. Born in New Jersey and raised in Maryland, Ekulona received his bachelor’s in political science from Elon University. He also spent time in Los Angeles, where he worked as an educator for at-risk high school students and as a film producer. He is the founder of the hip-hop group Fresh Air.

MLK Day events

Vanderbilt’s Jan. 15 commemoration is just one of the events honoring King across campus and in collaboration with community partners.

Joint Day of Service: Saturday, Jan. 13

11 a.m.–4 p.m., Meharry Medical College

MLK Joint Day of Service is an annual celebration of King’s legacy. On Saturday, Jan. 13, students from all of Nashville’s colleges and universities will come together at Meharry Medical College for a keynote address from Vanderbilt University Distinguished Professor Michael Eric Dyson, then volunteer at community service projects across the city.

Students: Participation counts toward Commons and College Cup points. Register to volunteer by visiting Anchor Link.

Nashville MLK Day March and Convocation: Monday, Jan. 15

Registration and hoodie pickup begins at 7:30 a.m.

Buses depart from Branscomb Quad and The Commons Center at 8:15 a.m.

March and Convocation, 9–11:30 a.m.

Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to take part in the 2024 Nashville MLK Day March and Convocation. Vanderbilt community members and other community attendees will march from the Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church to the TSU Gentry Center, where this year’s convocation speaker is renowned poet and Fisk University alumna Nikki Giovanni.

Students: Participation in this event counts toward Commons and College Cup points.

For students, register for the march and MLK hoodie by visiting Anchor Link. >>

For faculty and staff, register to volunteer for the march by visiting Anchor Link. >>

2024 MLK Day Commemorative Event featuring Khalil Ekulona, host of WPLN’s This Is Nashville: Monday, Jan. 15

1:30 p.m. in Sarratt Cinema

After the MLK Day march, students, faculty, staff and community members are invited to hear Vanderbilt 2024 MLK Day commemorative speaker. All attendees will receive a gift at the conclusion of the event.

Students: Participation in this event counts toward Commons and College Cup points.

Register here to attend the event. >>

Fisk Gymnastics MLK Day Meet at Memorial Gym: Monday, Jan. 15

– 5:30 p.m. at Memorial Gym

America’s first HBCU gymnastics team, the Fisk University Lady Bulldogs, is making history again. Fisk University is hosting a joint gymnastics match that will bring the nation’s only African American women head gymnastics coaches together for competition. The historic meet will be Jan. 15, 2024, at Vanderbilt University’s Memorial Gymnasium. For the first time, Brown University, Iowa State University, Rutgers University, Talladega University, William & Mary University and Fisk University will come together under one roof to compete.

Get tickets for the MLK Invitational >>