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District Hosts 33rd Annual MLK Celebration

MLK 2019 event poster The 33rd annual University City Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 17, 2019, at University City High School, 7401 Balson Ave. (63130).

This year's theme is "I'll Make a Difference."

Please join us as we honor the legacy of Dr. King by presenting the University City Board of Education’s MLK Spirit Award, along with student performances, speeches and more.

Special guest speaker Mary Beth Tinker, UCHS Class of 1970, will be celebrating her involvement in the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that clarified that students’ freedoms of speech and expression do not stop at the classroom door.

Shields is a 1985 graduate of UCHS and served on the District’s Board of Education. He is also a pastor and social activist with more than two decades of community service. Shields was nominated for his involvement in the fight for equal rights, which includes advocating on behalf of racial equality for all at the state capital.

This year’s keynote speaker, Mary Beth Tinker, is a 1970 UCHS graduate. She grew up in Iowa, and became involved in the civil rights movement while she was in eighth-grade. Her efforts led to the 1969 Supreme Court ruling that clarified freedom of speech and expression for all students. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the ruling in this landmark case. Tinker currently lives in Washington, D.C. and is on a national “Tinker Tour” to promote civics education and the rights of young people.  

“We’re excited for both of our participants in this year’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., program,” said Superintendent of Schools Sharonica Hardin-Bartley, Ph.D, PHR. “The community has always supported our efforts as we remember the life and legacy of Dr. King and his contributions to our society.”
The celebration program also includes student performances. It is free to attend and open to the public. A brief reception following the program will be held in the school’s Student Arts Center.

Click here for official news release.  

Mary Beth Tinker Mary Beth Tinker

Mary Beth Tinker grew up in Iowa, where her father was a Methodist minister. Her parents' belief that religious ideals should be put into action led the entire family to be involved with the civil rights movement in the 1960s, and then with the Quakers. In 1965, while Tinker was in eighth grade at Warren Harding Junior High School in the Des Moines School District, she and a group of students were suspended for wearing black armbands to mourn the Vietnam War dead.

According to Tinker, the armbands served as a symbol of mourning that had been around for years. They had also been worn at a memorial service in Des Moines for the victims of the Birmingham church bombing in 1963, and at other places around the country. The idea of Iowans wearing it to mourn the dead in Vietnam was suggested when a group from Iowa was returning home after one of the first national protests against the war.

A court challenge by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of the students led to the landmark 1969 Supreme Court ruling in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District that neither teachers nor students “shed their constitutional rights... at the schoolhouse gate.” By the time that ruling came down, Tinker had relocated to University City, Mo., and was a junior at University City High School (UCHS).

After graduating from UCHS in 1970, Tinker became a nurse, earning her master’s degrees in nursing and public health. She currently lives in Washington, D.C. and is on a national “Tinker Tour” to promote civics education and the rights of young people. This February, she and her brother John will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the ‘Tinker’ ruling with a number of events, including one for high school students to be live streamed nationwide on February 22nd.  For more information, go to or

Tinker photo courtesy of Maria Byrk with Newseum.

Sheilds Rev. Dr. E. G. Shields Jr. 

Rev. Dr. E. G. Shields Jr. is a former School District of University City Board of Education member, pastor and social activist. He spent decades in community service and held positions in various church groups, educational institutions and city government.

Shields attended University City Schools from kindergarten through 12th grade, graduating from University City High School in 1985. He attended the University of Missouri - St. Louis and earned his doctorate from Pillsbury College and Seminary.

As the president of the Progressive National Baptist Convention Midwest Region, Shields organized a social justice committee. He’s received rave reviews for encouraging young adults to create programs and services that help enlighten older adults about the racial
inequalities that exist today.

Shields has traveled to Washington, D.C., where he led a delegation on a visit Capitol Hill for an annual PNBC Advocacy Day. In addition, he traveled abroad with delegations to Israel for the same mission. His involvement in the fight for equal rights also includes travels to the Missouri
state capital. He currently serves as chair of the 24:1 Clergy Coalition, where he meets regularly with mayors and community leaders to promote equity and equality within local communities. 

Shields is passionate about speaking and advocating on behalf of young adults and gaining racial equality for all. Because of his extensive community work, he received the superintendent of school’s Uniquely University City award in 2002, along with several mayoral proclamations and numerous civic awards.