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Syracuse University

01/15/2020 | News release | Distributed by Public on 01/15/2020 10:12

Performances to Explore Race, Identity in Connection with Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration

The campus community is invited to three events exploring themes of race and identity through artistic presentations, providing opportunities for further reflection surrounding the 35th annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration.

The events are a performance by and conversation with Dexter McKinney '08, G'13, titled 'Transcending Race and Adversity,' on Tuesday, Jan. 21; a poetry event, 'Sheroes of Poetry,' on Friday, Jan. 24; and a performance by Sonny Kelly, titled 'The Talk,' on Tuesday, Jan. 28.

The Rev. Raphael Warnock

The MLK Celebration will be held on Sunday, Jan. 26, in the Dome. Civil rights leader the Rev. Raphael Warnock, senior pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the spiritual home of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., will be the featured speaker.

American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation and Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) will be available for the event.

'The annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration seeks to honor the life and legacy of a leader who brought hope and healing to our world,' says the Rev. Brian Konkol, dean of Hendricks Chapel, and a member of the 35th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Planning Committee. 'By providing additional opportunities we will continue our important and collective work, so we may foster and support an inclusive and accessible campus community for all.'

The additional events offer campus community members further experiences for greater understanding of the complex themes of race, inequality and justice in our society. The performers will share their compelling stories and hope to provide audience members insight and inspiration.

Kennedy Hagens '21, co-chair of diversity affairs, Student Association, encourages the campus community to attend the events. 'These events continue the dialogue about racial equality and work toward educating the campus community about the dimensions of race and justice in our society,' Hagens says.

'It will be a great opportunity to celebrate culture and community on campus,' says Lujane Juburi '22, co-chair of diversity affairs, Student Association.

'Transcending Race and Adversity,' Tuesday, Jan. 21, 6:30 to 8 p.m., Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium, Newhouse 3

Dexter McKinney

'When They See Us' actor, global entrepreneur and consultant, and teacher Dexter McKinney will share his inspiring story of how he managed to transcend race and adversity in the City of Syracuse while making his dreams come true.

Sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and co-sponsored by the 35th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Planning Committee and the Office of Community Engagement, McKinney's performance will provide audience members with a view into the life of a young, African American man, the challenges and adversity he has faced and their ties to race, and how that adversity transformed his life and has helped him transform the lives of others.

McKinney, who grew up on the South Side of Syracuse, earned a bachelor's and two master's degrees from Syracuse University. He has worked in Congress, at Nike and in the Office of the Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney. He has appeared in roles in television, theater and film, including Netflix's critically acclaimed miniseries 'When They See Us.'

McKinney will perform 'Transcending Race and Adversity,' which will be followed by an interview and an audience Q&A session.

American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation and Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) will be provided. To request additional accommodations, contact [email protected].

'Dexter McKinney's story has meaning for everyone. Overcoming racial adversity is no small feat,' says Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Keith A. Alford. 'Likewise, spoken word poetry by women promises to take us to new levels of understanding. All MLK events will raise our consciousness about racial equality.'

'Sheroes of Poetry,' Friday, Jan. 24, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the Community Black Box Theatre, Community Folk Art Center

'Sheroes of Poetry' brings together a dynamic group of women to share their unique, yet shared, stories in poetry-form.

'Sheroes of Poetry' brings together a dynamic group of women to share their unique, yet shared, stories in poetry form. They will explore our understanding of how race, and being a woman of color, is viewed in society.

Sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and co-sponsored by the 35th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Planning Committee and the Office of Community Engagement, 'Sheroes of Poetry' challenges audience members to open themselves to the lived experience of others and reimagine how women of color should be viewed in this world.

Please register for this event as space is limited. Heavy hors d'oeuvres will be served at 6:30 p.m.; the program will begin at 7 p.m.

American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation will be provided. To request additional accommodations, contact [email protected].

'The Talk,' Tuesday, Jan. 28, 6:30 to 9 p.m., Grant Auditorium, White Hall

Sonny Kelly

The Talk is a one-man performance by Sonny Kelly that draws on the voices of ancestors, elders, youths and intellectuals to engage in the difficult conversations that we must have with our children as we prepare them to survive and thrive in a divided America. This eclectic theatrical experience weaves together storytelling, interactive theater, literature, a dynamic embodied performance and a multi-media production to engage audiences in conversations around reconciliation.

Kelly is a master of storytelling, acting, Shakespeare, theater arts, poetry, spoken word, group facilitation, interpersonal communication, performance studies, training and teaching. He captures the attention and imaginations of audiences of all ages with the power of words.

With more than 20 years of experience as a professional actor, over a decade of youth work and a master's degree in communication studies, Kelly knows the smart way to tap into the minds of students and workers of all ages.

A talk-back session will follow the performance.

The event is sponsored by the College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA), the 35th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Planning Committee and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

'These MLK events facilitate the kinds of difficult conversations that help a university community honor one another's life experiences,' says James Haywood Rolling Jr., dual professor of art education and teaching and leadership in VPA and the School of Education and the chair of art education, and VPA's director of diversity, equity and inclusion. 'VPA initiated the effort to bring Sonny Kelly to campus in order to prompt more 'talk' about difficult matters.'

American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation and Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) will be provided. To request additional accommodations for 'The Talk,' contact James Haywood Rolling Jr. at [email protected] or 315.443.6779.