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Martin Luther King lecture 9 October 2023 19:00 - 21:30

Join us on Monday 9 October, as visiting professor Anthony Bogues presents the Martin Luther King Lecture 2023 at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. This year's theme is a compelling one: ‘Why We Can't Wait’. You are most welcome to this evening of inspiration and reflection.

The Netherlands officially abolished slavery within the entire Kingdom in 1863. However, enslaved people in Suriname had to continue working on the plantations for another ten years after this. The history of slavery still persists today in the forms of racism and discrimination.  

Resistance to anti-black racism in the Netherlands received a boost from the United States through protests co-led by Dr Martin Luther King Jr. The honourary doctorate he received from VU Amsterdam in 1965 exemplifies this.  

Recognition for the victims as well as for the heroes in this history - such as Tula and De Kom - is only now commencing, following a prolonged struggle by Afro-Caribbean activists. The nature and scope of this history, along with the role of the Netherlands, are becoming increasingly evident to everyone. The same applies to the need to address and rectify the enduring consequences.  

Why We Can't Wait 

In this year's Martin Luther King Lecture, we will join Anthony Bogues in looking at the contributions of activism and protest against the injustices stemming from the history of slavery, and the relevance of King's ideas – as outlined in his work Why We Can't Wait – to today's world.  

After the lecture, Franc Weerwind, outgoing Minister for Legal Protection, and Pepijn Brandon, Professor of Global Economic and Social History at VU Amsterdam will discuss the topic, moderated by Aldith Hunkar. 

About the speaker 

Anthony Bogues is a writer, curator and political theorist, director of the Center for the Study of Slavery & Justice and Asa Messer Professor of Humanities and Critical Theory at Brown University. The Center for the Study of Slavery & Justice at Brown University is a centre for dynamic research on historical racial slavery that examines how its legacy shapes the contemporary world.  

He has written extensively on political theory and intellectual history of Africa and the African diaspora with a particular interest in the evolution of knowledge and systems of scholarship regarding the relationships between scholarship, society and race. He is also visiting professor of thought on Africa and the African diaspora at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. 

About the Martin Luther King Lecture 

Martin Luther King's non-violent struggle for equal rights is still an inspiration today. With his speeches, he enthused many and managed to build bridges and remove resistance. This annual lecture is in memory of his work and to inspire. 

The Martin Luther King Lecture is made possible by Stichting Martin Luther King Lezing, VUvereniging and the Diversity Office of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
In collaboration with Black Achievement Month.


(in English) 

Welcome in foyer main building VU Amsterdam  

Spoken Word contest  

Opening by Jeroen Geurts, Rector Magnificus, and Dave Ensberg, Chairman Stichting Martin Luther King Lezing

Martin Luther King Lecture by Anthony Bogues 

Reaction by outgoing minister Franc Weerwind 

Reaction to lecture by Pepijn Brandon 

Discussion between Anthony Bogues and Pepijn Brandon with moderation by Aldith Hunkar 

Intermezzo: Urmie Plein

Interview with Harcourt Klinefelter (former press secretary for Martin Luther King) and Linda Nooitmeer (president of the National Institute Netherlands Slavery History and Heritage) led by Aldith Hunkar

Announcement of winners of Spoken Word contest  

Closing remarks by Aldith Hunkar


About Martin Luther King lecture

Starting date

  • 9 October 2023


  • 19:00 - 21:30


  • Aula
  • VU Main building


  • De Boelelaan 1105
  • 1081HV Amsterdam

Anthony Bogues

Anthony Bogues

"...if decoloniality is supposed to inspire change, then I think it must include a practice of undoing histories that universities reflect and make histories of their dark past transparent"

Anthony Bogues in an extended interview by Susan Legêne