UA Announces 2020 Realizing the Dream Banquet and Concert Schedule

By Diane Kennedy-Jackson
Publications Coordinator, Division of Community Affairs

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama is pleased to announce the upcoming 2020 Realizing the Dream Legacy Banquet and Concert.

The Legacy Banquet will take place Friday, January 17, 2020, at 6:30 p.m. in the Bryant Conference Center Sellers Auditorium, with the concert scheduled for Sunday, January 19, 2020. The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. at The University of Alabama’s (UA) 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,” the hard-hitting news magazine series. She is host of the podcast “Everyday Bravery,” a series about finding the courage within ourselves to overcome our biggest challenges. Additionally, she has 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. She documented her experience in the 2010 memoir, “Somewhere Inside: One Sister’s Captivity in North Korea and the Other’s Fight to Bring Her Home,” penned with her sister, Lisa. Ling is a service ambassador for Points of Light, the nonpartisan organization dedicated to solving social problems through voluntary service.

The featured guest for the concert will be gospel artist Jonathan McReynolds. His music began in a college dorm room in the presence of a few friends 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. The Chicago native says that “Life Music,” which is concerned with showing others and reminding himself how the faith doesn’t just fit every part of life, but should frame every part of life, is everything he’s truly about. In addition to his musical contributions, McReynolds serves as an adjunct instructor at Columbia College, one of his alma maters, and 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. Gospel artist Kirk Franklin, who was the featured concert artist at this event in 2017, has called McReynolds “the future of gospel music, “the freshest songwriter I’ve heard in years.”

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 (SCLC).

At the Legacy Banquet, 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 feature a tribute to Paula Sue Burnum-Hayes, Theresa Burroughs, Nimrod Quintus Reynolds and Ella Odessa Warrick, all previous Legacy Award winners who are deceased. While each of them led very different lives, their legacies are inextricably intertwined with one another Through the Courage to Live a Life of Purpose in advancing the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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, please visit the Moody Music Box Office Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020 through Friday, Jan. 10, 2020, from 8 a.m. to noon. For more information, call 205-348-7111 or email

Realizing the Dream partner, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, will sponsor Unity Day activities beginning on 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

The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.