NOTE: The Martin Luther King Jr. Cultural Dinner has been rescheduled for February 25. The event is sold out.

Jemele Hill, an Emmy Award-winning journalist, co-founder of Lodge Freeway Media, and contributing writer for The Atlantic, will give the Martin Luther King Jr. keynote address at Illinois State University at 6 p.m. in the Brown Ballroom of the Bone Student Center.

In April of 2019, Hill debuted Jemele Hill is Unbothered on Spotify. The two-time Webby award-winning podcast features in-depth, thought-provoking conversation with some of the biggest newsmakers across entertainment, culture, music, and politics. Hill also explores topical and controversial issues with humorous, candid commentary. Previous Unbothered guests have included Vice President Kamala Harris, Ava DuVernay, Common, Ice Cube, Spike Lee, Gabrielle Union, Chelsea Clinton, Dan Rather, Stephen Colbert, Issa Rae, Taraji P. Henson, and Soledad O’Brien.

Unbothered was not Hill’s only contribution in the podcast arena. On April 15, 2020, Hill along with Van Lathan launched the podcast, The Wire: Way Down in the Hole. The podcast breaks down every episode on the HBO classic series. The hosts recap each show, break down signature moments, scenes, and characters.

In addition, breaking new ground as a podcaster, Hill also continued her celebrated television broadcasting career. On August 19, 2020, Hill along with her longtime friend, former ESPN anchor Cari Champion, launched a weekly, late-night show on Vice Network calledCari & Jemele: Won’t Stick to Sports. The show covered politics, sports, news, current events, and pop culture.

Hill also is stretching her muscles behind the camera. She is set to produce the ESPN documentary on former NFL quarterback and civil rights activist Colin Kaepernick. Hill is also currently developing a comedy series for Showtime with acclaimed actress Gabrielle Union.

Hill’s 20-plus year journalism career has included stops at the biggest sports media network and several reputable newspapers. She originally joined ESPN in 2006 as a national columnist for Her profile gradually rose as she began to make appearances on television, including SportsCenter, First Take, Around the Horn, The Sports Reporters, and Outside the Lines. She also spent a season as a sideline reporter for ESPN college football games.

Her foray into daily television began in 2013, when she and longtime friend Michael Smith began co-hosting the daily, sports discussion show, His & Hers, which sprang from their popular podcast of the same name. In February 2017, Hill and Smith co-anchored the 6 p.m. SportsCenter, which debuted as a more personality-driven approach to the traditional SportsCenter. After her stint as SportsCenter host, Hill was a senior columnist for The Undefeated, ESPN’s sub-site that focuses on the intersection of sports, race, culture, and politics. She eventually left ESPN in September 2018 and then a month later, she began writing about those same intersections for the highly-acclaimed socio-political magazine, The Atlantic.

Before joining ESPN, Hill was a sports columnist for the Orlando Sentinel from 2005-06 – the lone African-American female sports columnist in North America. From 1999-2005, she served as a sports writer with the Detroit Free Press covering Michigan State football and basketball. Hill began her career in 1997 as a general assignment sports writer for the Raleigh News & Observer.

In August 2018, the National Association of Black Journalists awarded Hill with the Journalist of the Year Award. In July 2016, Hill participated in Emmy Award-winning The President and the People: A National Conversation – a one-hour town hall with President Barack Obama on race relations, justice, policing, and equality.

A native of Detroit, Hill graduated from Michigan State University in 1997 with a degree in journalism. In November of 2019, Hill married Ian Wallace.

This event is presented by the Office of the President, University Housing Services, the Division of Student Affairs, and the Association of Residence Halls. Those with questions, or who need accommodations to fully participate in the event, can email Presidential and Trustee Events at or call (309) 438-8790.