Saint Louis University, along with Loyola University Maryland and the University of San Francisco, will honor the life of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. in a virtual event at 2:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 28, with Rev. Dr. Starsky D. Wilson, the president and CEO of the Children’s Defense Fund, as the keynote speaker.
Wilson is also a minister, philanthropist and activist, pursuing God’s vision of community marked by justice, peace, and love. The theme for his speech is “Walking with the Excluded: Accompanying Young People in the Creation of a Hope-Filled Future.”
Previously, Wilson served in St. Louis as president and CEO of the Deaconess Foundation in St. Louis, a faith-based grant-making organization supporting a movement for child well-being through philanthropy, advocacy, and organizing for racial equity and public policy change.
Under Wilson’s leadership, Deaconess constructed and established the Deaconess Center for Child Well-Being, a 21,000 square foot community action tank. Each year, more than 15,000 citizens engage the Center to build power for children and families. Alongside its capacity-building support for non-profits, the Foundation sponsors a network of congregation-based Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools.
From 2008 through 2018, Wilson pastored Saint John’s Church (The Beloved Community), related to the United Church of Christ.
After the police killing of Michael Brown Jr. in 2014, Wilson co-chaired the Ferguson Commission. In 2015, the Commission released the ‘Forward Through Ferguson: A Path Toward Racial Equity’ report, calling for sweeping changes in policing, the courts, child well-being and economic mobility.
Before heading to the Children’s Defense Fund, Wilson also served as a member of The St. Louis American editorial board.