CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - The University of Virginia has planned almost two weeks of events in honor of civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., including reminiscences about his 1963 visit to U.Va. and talks by well-known activists and scholars.
King biographer Clayborne Carson will speak on Jan. 17; national political adviser Donna Brazile will speak on Jan. 20; former NAACP president and King associate Julian Bond and Larry Sabato, both professors at U.Va., will introduce the film, "Freedom Riders," on Jan. 25; and poet Amiri Baraka will give a reading on Jan. 27. Also on Jan. 25, historian and U.Va. professor emeritus Paul Gaston, U.Va. alumnus Wesley Harris, and community member Eugene Williams will discuss King's 1963 visit to Grounds. Details on events can be found below.
U.Va. President Teresa Sullivan asked Dr. Marcus Martin, interim vice president and chief officer for diversity and equity, to coordinate events "for a fitting community tribute to honor the life of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr."
"Since then, he and many members of the University and local communities have put together a compelling program of events that will explore Dr. King's extraordinary contributions," Sullivan wrote in an invitation e-mailed to the University community.
Scheduled from Jan. 16 to 27, the "Community Celebration: Faith in the Future" begins Sunday with the local commemoration at Mount Zion First African Baptist Church at 5 p.m., featuring speaker Maurice Jones, Charlottesville's city manager.
Community and University planning committees are organizing events, and dozens of offices, departments, schools and student groups at U.Va. are cosponsoring the celebration. Events will cover a range of topics related to King's ideas. Most activities will take place around Grounds; a few events and details are still to be determined, so checking the online calendar is recommended.
All programs are free and most are open to the public.
Donna Brazile and Politics
Brazile's talk, free and open to the public, will be held on Jan. 20 at 4 p.m. in the auditorium of the David and Mary Harrison Institute for American History, Literature and Culture and Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. She will speak on King's legacy as it relates to women in leadership.
A veteran Democratic political strategist, Brazile is vice chair of voter registration and participation for the Democratic National Committee and former chair of the DNC's Voting Rights Institute. Brazile, a native of New Orleans, worked on every presidential campaign from 1976 through 2000, when she served as campaign manager for former Vice President Al Gore, becoming the first African-American woman to manage a presidential campaign.
Author of the best-selling memoir "Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in American Politics," Brazile is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, a syndicated newspaper columnist for United Media, a columnist for Ms. Magazine and O, the Oprah Magazine, and an on-air contributor to CNN and ABC, where she regularly appears on "This Week with Christiane Amanpour."
Clayborne Carson on King's Life
Carson, professor of history at Stanford University, will speak Jan. 17 at 4 p.m. in the Law School's Caplin Pavilion. Carson, editor of King's autobiography and papers, has devoted his professional life to the study of King and the movement he inspired.
Carson also founded the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford. Until 2009, he served as Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Professor at Morehouse College in Atlanta and as executive director of the Morehouse King Collection.
Carson will also visit a January Term class in the Law School on "What Lawyers Can Learn from the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr."
When King Came to U.Va.
A discussion with alumnus Wesley Harris, Eugene Williams, a Charlottesville native, retired businessman and community activist with a record of fighting for equality for the local African-American community, and Paul Gaston, U.Va. professor of history emeritus, will be held at noon in the auditorium of the Harrison Institute / Small Special Collections Library on Jan. 25. They will talk about their experiences hosting King during his March 25, 1963 visit and speech on Grounds. U.Va. history professor and longtime civil rights activist Julian Bond will moderate.
Harris was the second African-American student to live on the Lawn and is now a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Williams has had a career in education administration.
Gaston, who taught history at the University from 1957 to 1997, wrote about racial segregation and social change in Charlottesville and at U.Va. in his 2009 memoir, "Coming of Age in Utopia: The Odyssey of an Idea."
Also on Jan. 25, starting at 6 p.m., politics professor Larry Sabato of U.Va.'s College of Arts & Sciences will interview Bond and before a free screening of the documentary film, "Freedom Riders," at the Paramount Theater. They will discuss the film's topic.
From documentarian Stanley Nelson, "Freedom Riders" is the story of the more than 400 Americans who, in 1961, stared down the dangers of Deep South racial tensions to make a statement about segregation. Based on Raymond Arsenault's book, "Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice," the film offers interviews with many of the individuals involved, from the journalists who covered it and politicians who stood against it, to the riders themselves, who overcame pressure from all sides to earn the attention of the federal government in their struggle to desegregate public highway transit.
Amiri Baraka: Poet, Playwright, Activist
Amiri Baraka will visit Culbreth Theatre on Jan. 27 at 7 p.m. for a reading and discussion of his work. Born in 1934 in Newark, N.J., Baraka is the author of more than 40 books of essays, poems, drama and music history and criticism. He has recited poetry and lectured on cultural and political issues extensively in the U.S., the Caribbean, Africa and Europe.
His awards and honors include an Obie, the American Academy of Arts & Letters award, the James Weldon Johnson Medal for contributions to the arts, Rockefeller Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts grants, professor emeritus at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and the poet laureate of New Jersey.
o Panel Discussion on Health Care Disparities
Jan. 17, 4:30 to 6 p.m., McLeod Hall Fenwick Auditorium
U.Va.'s schools of Nursing and Medicine will hold several events in honor of King, culminating in a panel on health care disparities in the U.S. It will feature Dr. Vivian Pinn, director of the National Institutes of Health's Office of Research on Women's Health, and Dr. Louis Sullivan, former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Pinn, the second African-American woman to graduate from U.Va.'s School of Medicine, will reflect on her experience early in her medical career as an underrepresented person. Sullivan, former secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will draw from his "Missing Persons" report to discuss the current status of those who are underrepresented in health care.
Deans Dorrie Fontaine of the Nursing School and Steven DeKosky of the School of Medicine will offer reflections on the discussion.
Also on Jan. 17, there also will be a student panel discussion in McLeod Hall's Fenwick Auditorium, from noon to 1:30 p.m., with graduate nursing and medical students. From 1:30 to 4 p.m., selected undergraduate and high school students will shadow doctors, nurses and other health practitioners and a chance to experience the Clinical Simulation Learning Center in the School of Nursing.
o Diversity in the Classroom as a Path to Better Learning
Jan. 18, 9 a.m., Monroe Hall, room 130
Kathryn M. Plank, associate director of Ohio State University's Center for the
Advancement of Teaching, will talk about inclusive education in the plenary session of the Teaching Resource Center's January workshop. Participants will explore the role diversity plays in teaching and how recognizing and including diversity can lead to improved student learning.
o The Civil Rights Movement in the Presidential Recordings Project
Jan. 19, 11 a.m., Miller Center of Public Affairs
Kent Germany and Michele Rubin will talk about the relationship between King and President Lyndon B. Johnson that emerges in secret tapes recorded by Johnson. Germany, associate professor of history and African American studies at the University of South Carolina, edited the Civil Rights volume in the University of Virginia Press' Presidential Recordings Series. Michele Rubin, a literary agent at Writers House in New York, represents King's literary estate and recently launched the King Legacy Series with Beacon Press.
o Oratory Competition for Charlottesville High School Students
Jan. 19, 7 p.m., Rotunda Dome Room
Finalists will present their 750- to 1,000-word, five-minute original speeches answering the question, "How can the Charlottesville community do better to overcome the separate paths and unequal prospects of its students?"
o School Boards: Are They For You?
Jan. 19, 7 p.m., Burley Middle School Media Center
In 2011, there will be at least three vacant seats on both the Charlottesville and Albemarle County school boards. This panel discussion will focus on how to be a positive force and an activist and how to run for a school board, among other topics. Panelists are scheduled to include Tom Smith, former chair of the Fluvanna County School Board; Leah Puryear, member, Charlottesville School Board; Brian Wheeler, former member of the Albemarle County School Board; and a representative from the Virginia School Board Association.
o Panel Discussion: I Have a Dream: Visions of Engineering in the Twenty-First Century
Jan. 20, 5 p.m., Mechanical Engineering Building, room 205, Mechanical Engineering Building
Robert Bland will moderate a panel of faculty members, graduate and undergraduate students, who will discuss their visions and ideas for broadening, diversifying and enhancing the field of engineering, both at U.Va.'s School of Engineering and Applied Science and nationally.
o Interfaith Worship Service
Jan. 23, 2 p.m., Jefferson Theater on the Downtown Mall
o Overcoming a Legacy of Distrust: Reflections on "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks"
Jan. 23, 4 p.m., Paramount Theater
A panel discussion on Rebecca Skloot's book, "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks," will include several speakers in addition to University Professor James Childress, director of the Institute for Practical Ethics and Public Life. Holly Edwards, Charlottesville's vice mayor and a public health nurse; Jeanita Richardson, associate professor of public health sciences in U.Va.'s School of Medicine; Patrick Tolan, director of Youth-Nex and the Center to Promote Effective Youth Development in U.Va.'s Curry School of Education; and Karen Waters, executive director of the Quality Community Council, will join Childress discussing lessons to be learned from the case.
A video summary of the book, about how the first immortal human cell line was created, will precede the discussion. The cells, called HeLa cells, quickly became invaluable to medical research - though the identity of their donor remained a mystery for decades. She was Lacks, a young black woman with cervical cancer. While trillions of her cells are used in the advancement of science, many of her family members continue to live without health insurance.
o Arthur Romano Presentation on Nonviolence Training and Education
Jan. 24, 4 p.m., Auditorium of the Harrison Institute/Small Special Collections Library
Romano is a World Peace Scholar in England and human rights activist who founded Youth for Peace, an Internet-based program for young people worldwide to share inspiration and information related to community projects.