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UCM Alumnus, Author, Journalist Toriano Porter Will Speak at MLK Freedom Scholarship Dinner Jan. 21

By Jeff Murphy, January 8, 2020

Toriano Porter

WARRENSBURG, MO – Toriano Porter, an author, journalist and public speaker who studied journalism and creative writing at the University of Central Missouri, will return to his alma mater Tuesday, Jan. 21, to present the keynote remarks at the 2020 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Freedom Scholarship Dinner. The dinner is a highlight of a celebration that includes activities in honor of King.

An annual event that is open to the public, the MLK Freedom Scholarship Dinner raises money to help students fund their education at UCM. In addition to Porter’s remarks, the event is an opportunity to recognize this year’s MLK Freedom Scholarship recipients, all of whom have been enrolled at UCM this past year. The dinner takes place at 6:30 p.m, in the ballroom of the Elliott Student Union, and advance tickets are required. To reserve seats, contact the UCM Office of Student Experience and Engagement, Administration Building 214, 660-543-4114 or the Chamber of Commerce office, 100 S. Holden St., Warrensburg, 660-747-3168.

Porter is a former resident of south St. Louis who attended UCM from 1995 to 2000, and studied journalism and creative writing. He began his journalism career in 2001 at the North County Journal in suburban St. Louis.  He went on to work for The Independence Examiner and the Lee’s Summit Journal, and today serves as an opinion writer and editorial board member for The Kansas City Star.

In addition to a journalism career that has included statewide, regional and national awards for reporting, Porter is the author of books that include, The Pride of Park Avenue and James Cool. His newest work is titled the The Plain Ugly Truth.

With the theme, “From Dream to Reality: The March Continues,” the MLK celebration includes an opportunity to involve local K-12 students through an art and essay contest. Top entries from elementary, middle and high school students will be displayed at the Freedom Scholarship Dinner. All other entries will be available for viewing mid-January through February at the Warrensburg Community Center.

The MLK Service Awards Luncheon with the Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce is planned for 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15, at Taqueria Habana, 121 E. Pine St. This is an opportunity to honor both a Johnson County high school student and an area resident or organization who have exhibited qualities of humanitarianism, leadership or service to the community or to a group of individuals. Tickets are required and can be obtained through the Chamber.

Wednesday and Thursday, Jan. 15-16, the Community Service Blood Drive will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the ballroom of the Elliott Student Union. To learn more visit the Community Blood Center website at

While the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday is on Monday, Jan. 20, it will be a day of volunteerism on campus and throughout the Warrensburg community for many university students. Also on Monday, the campus and community comes together to enjoy an inspirational evening of music during the Community Praise and Worship Service at 6:30 p.m. in the Alumni Memorial Chapel.

On Tuesday, Jan. 21, the Let’s Talk: Issues Discussion takes place in the Union, providing an opportunity for individuals to share their thoughts on a variety of topics that are in the spirit of the MLK celebration.

MLK activities continue Wednesday, Jan. 22 with the Volunteer Fair from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Elliott Student Union atrium. This is an opportunity for students to stop by and visit with many community partners and learn more about how to volunteer and help others. Also on Wednesday, UCM students, alumni and community members are invited to a reception honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Missouri Innovation Campus in Lee’s Summit.

To learn more about the MLK celebration, contact Dr. Lover Chancler at 660-543-8049 or email


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