Realizing the Dream Banquet, Concert Feature Ling, McReynolds

  • December 19th, 2019

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The 2020 Realizing the Dream Legacy Banquet and Concert feature an award-winning journalist and Grammy-nominated gospel artist, respectively, while celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. The Legacy Banquet will take place Friday, Jan. 17, 2020, at 6:30 p.m. in the Bryant Conference Center Sellers Auditorium, with the concert scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. at The University of Alabama’s Moody Music Concert Hall.

The Legacy Banquet speaker will be Laura Ling, an award-winning journalist and author who has been recognized with both an Emmy and a national Edward R. Murrow award for her correspondent work for “SoCal Connected,” a hard-hitting news magazine series.

She is host of the podcast “Everyday Bravery,” a series about finding the courage within to overcome challenges. Additionally, she hosted two documentary series on the E! Network: “E! Investigates” and “Society X with Laura Ling.”

Prior to joining E!, Ling served as vice president of Current TV’s journalism department and created “Vanguard,” the network’s weekly investigative documentary series. In March 2009, while reporting on the trafficking of North Korean women, Ling and her colleague were detained by North Korean soldiers along the China-North Korea border. The two journalists were arrested and held captive in North Korea for 140 days before being granted a special pardon and returning to the U.S.

The featured guest for the concert will be gospel artist Jonathan McReynolds. His music began in a college dorm room and has grown to Christian music’s biggest stage. “Life Music: Stage Two,” his second album, received a Dove Award, a Grammy nomination and multiple Stellar Award nominations.

His latest full-length album, “Make Room,” debuted at No. 1 on Billboard Gospel. It has been hailed as his best work, earning eight Stellar Awards and two Grammy nominations.

In addition to his musical contributions, McReynolds serves as an adjunct instructor at Columbia College, one of his alma maters, and he is the founder of Elihu Nation, a nonprofit organization that promotes wisdom and has awarded $30,000 in scholarships. He earned a Master of Arts degree in Biblical studies from Moody Theological Seminary in 2015 and was recently named a new member of Mensa, an international high IQ society.

The theme for 2020 events celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is Realizing the Dream Through the Courage to Live a Life of Purpose. The events are hosted by UA, Stillman College, Shelton State Community College and the Tuscaloosa branch of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

At the Legacy Banquet, Dr. Mary Allen Jolley will receive the Mountaintop Award, Rep. Chris England will receive the Call to Conscience Award and Emma Mansberg will receive the Horizon Award.

This year’s Legacy Banquet will also pay tribute to Dr. Paula Sue Burnum-Hayes, Theresa Burroughs, Dr. Nimrod Quintus Reynolds and Ella Odessa Warrick, all previous Legacy Award winners who are deceased.

Concert tickets are $20. Legacy Banquet tickets are $30 for individuals or $250 for a table of 10. Dress is semiformal.

Tickets for both events will be available online at beginning Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, at 8 a.m. To purchase tickets in person, visit the Moody Music Box Office Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020 through Friday, Jan. 10, 2020, from 8 a.m. to noon. For more information, phone 205-348-7111 or email

Realizing the Dream partner, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, will sponsor Unity Day activities beginning Monday, Jan. 20, 2020.

For more information about Realizing the Dream activities and events, visit the website at, or contact Carol Agomo at 205-348-7405 or via email at


Carol Agomo, UA director of community and administrative affairs, 205-348-7405,


Diane Kennedy-Jackson, UA community affairs, 205-348-4480,; UA communications, 205-348-5320

The University of Alabama, part of The University of Alabama System, is the state’s flagship university. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA provides an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus. A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. As the state’s largest higher education institution, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.