Denison Commemorates MLK Jr. Day With Series of Speakers, Performers
Date of Event: January 22, 2007
Posted: January 8, 2007
Denison University students will return to classes on January 15th, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but will delay the beginning of commemoration events until later that week. An opening reception, a convocation, an all-campus luncheon and keynote performance, are planned not only as events commemorating the life and work of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. but also as part of a larger, semester-long series of events commemorating Black History Month, Women's History Month and multi-cultural awareness on campus. The theme for this year's programming is "The Words and the Music: South Africa," which recognizes King's international connections and impact as well as the special emphasis on South Africa that was fostered at Denison in the 1980s. In addition to the scheduled public events, five people who were nominated and selected in a campus wide process, will be recognized as the 2007 recipients of the Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Awards at a celebratory breakfast on Jan. 22.
The Keynote Event at 1:30 p.m. on Monday (Jan. 22) in Swasey Chapel will follow the traditional all-campus luncheons being held in the University's Curtis and Huffman dining halls. Tsidii Le Loka-Lupindo, better known just as Tsidii, is an award-winning actress and singer who originated the role of "Rafiki" for the Broadway musical "The Lion King." A native of South Africa, she brings the musical influences, artistic approaches and social consciousness of her home area together in her performances.
Tsidii has recorded with Peter Gabriel, Paul Simon and U2. She won the Drama League Award for Outstanding Performance in a Musical for Rafiki as well as a Drama Desk Award, and an Outer Critics Circle Award. She also was awarded the prestigious Ivor Novello Award for International Achievement in Musical Theatre from the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters. She was invited to perform at Dr. Nelson Mandela's first international press conference in Johannesburg after his release from prison. Tsidii earned a bachelor's degree in economics and a bachelor's degree in music - bothmagna cum laude-- from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Also appearing at the Keynote event in Swasey are members of Tsidii's company of performers and the Denison University Gospel Choir. A reception for the artists follows at 3 p.m. in the Doane Library lower level. These events are free and open to the public.
Dr. Bernard Tabatznik, a Polish Jew who escaped the anti-Semitism of Nazi Europe with his family by emigrating to South Africa, will be featured at the opening reception for the MLK Jr. Day events at 6 p.m. on Thursday (Jan. 18) in the Presidents Room of the Doane Library. Tabatznik arrived in South Africa in 1933 as a five year old. He graduated from the University of Witwatersrand University medical school in 1949 and practiced in apartheid South Africa in the 1950s. He came to Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University, Sinai Hospital in 1959. Tabatznik will share his experiences as a white, Jewish, South African physician and his impression of developments in his homeland over the past 70 years. Associate Professor Fred Porcheddu will give opening remarks at this reception. The lecture and reception are free and open to the public.
The MLK Jr. Day convocation is set for 7 p.m. on Sunday (Jan. 21) in Swasey Chapel when, following opening remarks by Anita Mannur, assistant professor of English at Denison, Ron Pitts will direct a group of Denison students in the play "Master Harold and the Boys" by Athol Fugard. The play tells the story of Hally, a white teen, as he seeks comfort from Sam and Willie, middle-aged black waiters in Hally's family diner, on a rainy day in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Lurking below their playful chat and innocence lies the specter of poisonous bigotry, the hateful condition that plays master to them all. Fugard is a white South African playwright who wrote many anti-apartheid works. "Master Harold" premiered at the Yale Repertory Theatre in 1982 and was banned by the South African government of the time. It won Best Play awards in 1983 from the London Critics' Circle Theatre Award, the Evening Standard Award (London) and the Drama Desk Award.
Pitts is a founding member and director of The Ujima Theatre Company. First organized in Pittsburg in 1972 the troupe aims to increase awareness about life's complexities and realism by reaching out through the method of dramatic theatrical entertainment. A former teacher, Pitts retains an interest in the education and personal development of young people. His acting credits include performances in August Wilson's "Fences" and "Jitney," in Loraine Hansberry's "To Be Young Gifted and Black," and Langston Hughes' "Black Nativity." He has worked with Denison graduate and music department faculty member Raymond Wise on "God What Color is Trouble."
On Jan. 22, five members of the Denison University andcommunities will be honored as recipients of the 2007 Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Awards at a special breakfast on campus. The Leadership Awards are given to campus and community leaders whose work exemplifies the values espoused by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. of racial equality, human dignity, grace, humility, quality of life and service. This year's recipients are Romero Huffstead, student; Cookie Sunkle, support staff; Laurel Kennedy, administrative staff; Raymond Wise, faculty; and Gary Hamilton, community.
CALENDAR LISTING: Denison University, Granville -- Martin Luther King Jr. Day opening reception and lecture by Dr. Bernard Tabatznik, a white, Jewish, South African physician; 6 to 8 p.m., Thursday (Jan 18), Presidents Room, Doane Library. (400 West Loop). Free and open to the public. Contact 740-587-6344 to confirm information.
CALENDAR LISTING: Denison University, Granville -- Martin Luther King Jr. Day Convocation featuring a company of Denison students performing "Master Harold and the Boys" by South African playwright Athol Fugard and directed by Ron Pitts, director of the Ujima Theater Group from Columbus; 7 p.m., Sunday (Jan. 21), Swasey Chapel (200 Chapel Drive). Free and open to the public. Contact 740-587-6344 to confirm information.
CALENDAR LISTING: Denison University, Granville -- Martin Luther King Jr. Day Keynote Commemoration featuring Tsidii, award winning actress and singer who originated the role of Rafiki in the Broadway production of "The Lion King"; 1:30 p.m., Monday (Jan. 22), Swasey Chapel. Free and open to the public. Contact 740-587-6344 to confirm information.
Denison University, founded in 1831, is an independent, residential liberal arts institution located in Granville, Ohio. A highly selective college enrolling 2,100 full-time undergraduate students from all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries, Denison is a place where innovative faculty and motivated students collaborate in rigorous scholarship, civic engagement and the cultivation of independent thinking.
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