The 23rd annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration is set for 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 16, in the North End Zone facility at Missouri Southern State University.

The theme for the event will be “Keeping the Dream – Sounds of Hope, Courage & Unity.” The keynote speaker will be Atiba Bradley, Missouri Southern’s head football coach.

Bradley, a graduate of Joplin High School and MSSU, is the 14th head coach in the university’s history. He is also the first graduate of MSSU to lead the Lions football program.

He came to Missouri Southern from NCAA Division II McKendree University in Lebanon, Ill., where he was the Bearcats’ defensive coordinator. Prior to that, he served as co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at NCAA Division I FCS University of South Dakota.

While playing for the Lions, Bradley was a two-time All-MIAA honorable mention pick as a linebacker. He finished his career as the second-leading tackler with 72 stops.

The celebration will begin with a social hour at 6 p.m., followed by the program at 7 p.m. It will include a performance by the marimba band Kufara, and the announcement of the annual Al Cade Beacon of Hope Awards for volunteer service. The awards honor students who have demonstrated extraordinary levels of leadership and service on or off campus, as well as the student organization with the highest number of volunteer service hours.

The event is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Lori Musser at