MLK Jr. Day Celebration at Denison Features Historical and Current Connections
Posted: November 27, 2007 / Last Updated: December 3, 2007
Note: Please link here for a PDF document (816 KB) with the entire calendar for Denison's 2008 Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration.
Much about life at Denison involves making connections, whether between seemingly unrelated academic disciplines or between people in the classrooms, on the quad, or in residence halls. They are connections that create the infrastructure of a student's life.
Denison's annual commemoration of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day joins in the tradition of connections, addressing each year a number of Dr. King's messages and lessons, under a series of events titled "The Words and The Music." This year, words and music will call to mind the theme, "I'm Gonna Sing the Spirit: Women in the Struggle for Civil and Human Rights."
The American Spiritual Ensemble (ASE) will "sing the spirit" in their concert at Denison on the day of the national celebration at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 21, in Swasey Chapel. Founded by Director Dr. Everett McCorvey of the University of Kentucky in 1995, the ASE is dedicated to keeping the American Negro Spiritual alive. The spirituals are historical songs, which speak about the rupture of Black lives. Slave composers often drew upon Biblical imagery to mask their yearning for freedom and, combined with their uncanny ability to use symbols in song, formed the "grapevine telegraph," which communicated intelligence among themselves.
The American Spiritual Ensemble has presented diverse concerts throughout the United States, Europe, and South America. Composed of some of the finest singers in the U.S., the ASE performs dynamic renditions of classic spirituals and Broadway numbers. At Denison, they also will perform with the Denison Gospel Choir and will sing an original composition by Dr. Raymond Wise, a 1983 Denison graduate, faculty member, conductor of Denison's Gospel Choir, and acclaimed gospel composer.
"Women in the struggle for civil and human rights" will showcase a production of Ntozake Shange's "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf: A Choreopoem." An all-Denison-student cast will premier the production at the King Arts Complex at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 24. The play will be performed twice at Denison in Herrick Hall -- at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 27, and at 3 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 1.
From its inception in California in 1974 to its highly acclaimed critical success at Joseph Papp's Public Theater and on Broadway, the Obie Award-winning play has excited, inspired and transformed audiences all over the country. Shange's words reveal what it is to be of color and female in the 20th century. She is acutely aware of the nothingness experienced by women in a society defined by men and her poems speak in frank, simple, vivid language.
As has become traditional, the Denison celebration of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day will open with a reception at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 17, in the President's Room of the William Howard Doane Library, with a lecture presented by Dr. Lauren Araiza of the department of history. Since early September, a group of dedicated students, faculty and staff has been planning the many events that will mark the King commemoration, Black History Month and Women's History Month. Among the many featured events are a breakfast dialogue session between groundbreaking Civil Rights activists Flonzie Brown-Wright and Hellen O'Neal-McCray, a six-part film series, and a student choral performance.
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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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