Author, scholar on King’s life to speak at MLK Day eventsBy Josh Schonwald
One of the country’s best known scholars of African American history and politics, Michael Dyson, will deliver the keynote address at the University’s commemoration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, at noon, Monday, Jan. 19.
A professor in humanities at the University of Pennsylvania, Dyson focuses his research on race, religion, popular culture and the contemporary crises that face the African American community.
Dyson has written six books, including a recent book on King titled I May Not Get There With You: The True Martin Luther King, Jr. Dyson also is a frequent media commentator and an author of essays that have been published in such publications as The New York Times, Vibe, Emerge, The Nation and Rolling Stone.
An ordained Baptist minister, Dyson brings a dynamic personality to the lecture podium and is known for impassioned speeches that are both intellectual and accessible, said Kathryn Stell, Director of the Office of Minority Student Affairs and an event organizer.
Stell said Dyson, who will be introduced by Melissa Harris-Lacewell, Assistant Professor in Political Science, was selected because of both his scholarly reputation and for work that appeals to a young audience. Author of the bestseller, Holler If You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac Shakur, Dyson is widely regarded as the nation’s foremost hip-hop scholar. “We really hope to draw young people to this year’s event,” said Stell.
In addition to Dyson’s address, Minnesota poet Thien-Bao Thuc Phi will give a presentation. Bao Phi, who emigrated with his family from Vietnam and settled in Minnesota, has created a distinctive breed of rap/poetry that has earned him national acclaim in poetry slam competitions.
Also performing at the event are the Pilsen Boys and Girls Dance Troupe, the Safer Foundation Choir and the University’s Soul Umoja and Ransom Notes.