CORVALLIS, Ore. – Raquel Willis, a black queer transgender activist, writer and the executive editor of Out Magazine, will present the keynote address at Oregon State University’s Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration on Jan. 20.

Willis, who is based in New York City, is dedicated to inspiring and elevating marginalized individuals, particularly transgender women of color. She’s part of Echoing Ida, a national black women and nonbinary writers’ collective. She is also a former national organizer for the Transgender Law Center in Oakland, California.

In 2018, she was named one of 12 Soros Equality Fellows by the Open Society Foundations. The fellowship allowed her to launch Black Trans Circles, a project of the Transgender Law Center, focused on developing the leadership of black trans women in the South and Midwest.

Her MLK address at OSU, which is free and open to the public, will take place from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Austin Auditorium in the LaSells Stewart Center. No tickets are required to attend the talk. The talk will be livestreamed and recorded.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration honors the legacy of King and allows the Oregon State community to reflect on his work through workshops, presentations and service opportunities. In its 38th year, the celebration is Oregon State’s longest running annual event focused on social justice and transformative change.

In addition to the keynote address by Willis, the celebration includes a peace breakfast and peace march.

During the peace breakfast, a ticketed event that begins at 9 a.m., four legacy awards will be presented to OSU community members – the Phyllis S. Lee Award, the Frances Dancy Hooks Award, the Oscar Humberto Montemayor Award and the inaugural Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Alumni Legacy Award.

Willis’ keynote address will be followed by a peace march at 12:30 p.m. It begins at the La Sells Stewart Center and ends at the Memorial Union. The peace march is an opportunity to join in solidarity with community members and reflect on King’s legacy of creating transformative change through non-violence. All community members are invited to participate.

General OSU

About Oregon State University: As one of only two universities in the nation designated as a land, sea, space and sun grant, Oregon State serves Oregon and the world by working on today’s most pressing issues. Our more than 32,000 students come from across the globe, and our programs operate in every Oregon county. Oregon State receives more research funding than all of the state’s comprehensive public universities combined. At our campuses in Corvallis and Bend, marine research center in Newport and award-winning Ecampus, we excel at shaping today’s students into tomorrow’s leaders.

Story By: 

Sean Nealon, 541-737-0787,


Steve Clark, 541-737-3808,


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