The Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights at Wayne State University Law School is pleased to announce its Fifth Biennial Lecture featuring prominent actor, singer and humanitarian Harry Belafonte. “An Evening with Harry Belafonte,” sponsored by Comerica Bank, will begin at 7 p.m. in the Law School’s Spencer M. Partrich Auditorium on Saturday, Oct. 30. A reception will take place at the conclusion of the lecture.
“The Keith Biennial Lecture has quickly become one of the most significant and anticipated civil rights events in the Detroit community,” said Peter Hammer, Wayne Law professor and director of the Keith Center. “We are excited to have Mr. Harry Belafonte make this important address. This event will serve as an appropriate bridge between the groundbreaking for the new Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights last May, and the grand opening of the new facility next year.”
“I am very proud that Comerica has the opportunity to partner in furthering Judge Keith’s living legacy,” said Caroline Chambers, president of the Comerica Charitable Foundation. “We are especially excited to fund the Keith Center Biennial Lecture Series and to welcome Harry Belafonte to Detroit. Mr. Belafonte is an American icon and an important voice in our civil rights history. We look forward to hosting students at the lecture who, I hope, will be inspired and motivated by his example.”
The Keith Biennial Lecture Series was initiated in 2002 with Professor Lani Guinier, former Keith clerk and the first woman of color appointed to a tenured professorship at Harvard Law School. The lecture series has brought other leading scholars and activists to Detroit to address issues of race, civil rights and social justice. Previous speakers have included Theodore M. Shaw, former director-counsel and president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Constance L. Rice, co-founder and co-director of the Advancement Project in Los Angeles, and Professor Derrick A. Bell, scholar, activist and leading expert on critical race theory.
Belafonte, who was born in Harlem, N.Y., and spent much of his childhood in his mother’s native Jamaica, is well known for his roles in a number of movies and through his music. He won a Tony Award in 1954 for his Broadway performance in John Murray Anderson’s Almanac, and starred in other films such as Carmen Jones, Kansas City, Swing Vote, Island in the Sun and Odds Against Tomorrow (the latter two explored racial boundaries). His albums Belafonte and Calypso soared to No. 1, the second launching a nationwide craze for Jamaican music. In addition, he became television’s first black producer, winning an Emmy for his special, Tonight with Harry Belafonte.
Though he continued to record throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Belafonte began to put more energy into civil rights and humanitarian work. He was a leader in the USA for Africa effort in 1985, singing on the hit 1985 single We Are the World, and he became UNICEF’s Goodwill Ambassador in 1986.
The lecture is free and open to the public. To RSVP please visit www.specialevents.wayne.edu/2010djklecture.
The Wayne State University Law School Building is located on campus at 471 W. Palmer, in Detroit’s Cultural District. Complimentary parking will be available in Structure #1 across from the Law School on Palmer Street.
For more information on the Keith Biennial Lecture Series or the Keith Center, please visit keithcenter.wayne.edu, or call the Law School dean’s office at (313) 577-3620.