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January 4, 1999

UCSC convocation honoring Martin Luther King Jr. will focus on 'bridging the generation gap'

Noted author, commentator, and professor Michael Eric Dyson will deliver the keynote speech on January 28

By Francine Tyler

Michael Eric Dyson has been called a "hip-hop intellectual" and a "street fighter in a suit and tie." Also a noted author, commentator, professor, and ordained Baptist minister, Dyson will be the featured speaker at UCSC's 15th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Convocation later this month.

Michael Eric Dyson

The title for Dyson's keynote speech is "Bridging the Generation Gap: Creating Conversation for Civil Rights." The convocation will take place at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, 307 Church Street, Santa Cruz, on Thursday, January 28. It begins at 7 p.m. and is free and open to the public. No tickets are required.

The day before the convocation, on Wednesday, January 27, at 7 p.m., UCSC will host a panel discussion featuring Dyson, sociology professor John Brown Childs, and UCSC students. The discussion will take place at the UCSC Performing Arts Mainstage Theater. Free of charge, it is open to the campus community only. Tickets are required and will be available at the UCSC Ticket Office beginning at 9 a.m. on January 27 to people with UCSC identification. Up to two tickets will be issued per person.

UCSC's annual convocation celebrates the life and the vision of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. with music, welcoming speeches, and a keynote address by a prominent figure. The convocation is intended to build partnerships, create connections, and develop dialogue within the on-campus and off-campus communities.

Described as "one of the youngest stars in the firmament of black intellectuals" by the Chronicle of Higher Education, Dyson, 39, is known for his commitment to urban youth and passion for popular culture. His lectures and writings draw from sources ranging from the French philosopher Michel Foucault to the American rap musician Snoop Doggy Dog.

Dyson's own history is equally broad. He is currently a Visiting Distinguished Professor of African-American Studies at Columbia University, but his resume includes work as a janitor, factory laborer, and construction worker. It also encompasses time spent on welfare after a layoff from a clerking position, a Ph.D. degree in religion from Princeton, a pastorship at a Detroit Baptist church, numerous speaking engagements, and a number of published articles and books.

Dyson's books include Between God and Gangsta Rap: Bearing Witness to Black Culture; Making Malcolm: The Myth and Meaning of Malcolm X; and Race Rules: Navigating the Color Line. His latest book, to be published this year, is titled "What Have We Come To: Bridging the Generation Gap." His articles have appeared in such publications as the New York Times, Vibe magazine, and Rolling Stone.

At the January 28 convocation, other speakers will include Chancellor Greenwood, who will deliver the welcoming address, and sociology professor John Brown Childs, who will introduce Dyson. The convocation will also include poetry, music, and additional speakers from the campus and community.

For more information, call the University Events Office at (831) 459-4058 or access the convocation Web site.

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