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MLK 2023 Featured Guest and Speaker

Emmy Award–winning journalist and author Byron Pitts, co-host of ABC’s Nightline, will be the keynote speaker for Vanderbilt University’s 2023 Martin Luther King Jr. Day commemorative event. This year’s topic is “It Starts with Me: Cultivating a Beloved Community Mindset to Transform Unjust Systems.”  

The event is scheduled from 6:30 to 8 p.m. CT on Monday, Jan. 16, at Blair School of Music’s Ingram Hall and is open to the Vanderbilt community. The event also will be livestreamed.  

Register here to attend the event in person >> 

Register here to attend the event virtually >> 

Pitts is known for covering high-profile international news stories over the span of a decades-long career, including investigations related to this year’s MLK theme of transforming unjust systems. He became one of CBS News’ lead reporters during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and won an Emmy Award for his breaking news coverage. As a war correspondent embedded with U.S. troops, he covered the Iraq War, including coverage of the fall of the Saddam Hussein statue in 2003. In the early 2000s, he also reported from the front lines of Hurricane Katrina, the war in Afghanistan, the military buildup in Kuwait, the Elián González case, the 2000 Florida presidential vote recount and the refugee crisis in Kosovo.   

He earned a national Emmy Award for news coverage of a Chicago train wreck in 1999. He was recognized for his work by the National Association of Black Journalists in 2002, and he has received numerous Associated Press awards and six regional Emmy Awards. 

Pitts is the author of Step Out on Nothing: How Faith and Family Helped Me Conquer Life’s Challengeswhich chronicles his life from struggling with illiteracy in childhood to becoming a top news anchor.