Smiley Canceled as MLK Keynote Speaker

By WEEK Producer

January 5, 2012 Updated Oct 26, 2013 at 2:08 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill.-- Tavis Smiley will not be the keynote speaker at the annual Peoria MLK Luncheon.

Event Organizers say the threat of a boycott prompted them to cancel Smiley's contract.

Smiley had been critical of President Obama--something that did not resonate with a significant number of luncheon patrons.

Smiley would have been paid $37,000 thousand. Now, he will receive a smaller cancellation fee.

"What's important to us is putting together a luncheon that celebrates the life and work of Dr.King," said Alma Brown, MLK Luncheon Organizer. "And it became evident over the last few days that people were upset about comments that Tavis Smiley had made, comments that we weren't aware of unfortunately so we made the decision to cancel his contract."

Georgetown Sociology Professor Michael Eric Dyson has been confirmed as the replacement for Smiley.

The 20th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Luncheon will be held at the Peoria Civic Center on January 16th. Doors open at 11:00 a.m. and the luncheon begins at Noon.

Tickets are $40 per person and tables of 10 can be purchased for $400 by calling Alma Brown at (309) 494-8554.

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