The African American Cultural Center will present a variety of free, public programs, including a keynote address by CBS News correspondent Byron Pitts, on January 28, 2010, as part of the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Commemorative Program.
A film festival will begin at 9:30 a.m. at the Crimson Events Center in Folger Hall. The first film to be shown will be King, a 1978 miniseries starring Paul Winfield, Cicely Tyson, and Tony Bennett.
Brick by Brick: A Civil Rights Story will be shown at 11:00 a.m. The documentary follows three families in Yonkers, N.Y., as they fight against racial discrimination. The film also explains the creation of a ghetto, segregation in schools, and what racism can do to a community.
Herskovits at the Heart of Blackness will be shown at 12:30 p.m. as part of the day’s Luncheon and Reflections Workshop. This 2009 Public Broadcasting System documentary is about the work of Melville J. Herskovits, a white anthropologist of Jewish ancestry.
Precious, a 2009 film based on the novel Push by Sapphire, will be shown at 3:00 p.m. The film is the story of sixteen-year-old Claireece “Precious” Jones, an African-American girl with an abusive home life. Jones is offered the chance to change her life by transferring to an alternative school. The film won the Cadillac People’s Choice Award at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival Gala Presentation and the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.
The keynote presentation by Pitts will conclude the day’s events.
Pitts will meet with student leaders at IUP before his keynote address, “Stepping Out on Nothing: The Future Meets the Present” at 7:00 p.m. in the IUP Performing Arts Center’s Fisher Auditorium.
This evening program will include performances by the IUP Voices of Joy gospel choir, the IUP African Dance Ensemble, Anthony Frazier and Friends, and Indiana-area children, as well as reflections by students and faculty and staff members.
The American Red Cross will collect donations for Haiti earthquake victims during the event.
The program concludes with a book signing and reception with Pitts in the Performing Arts Center mezzanine immediately following the lecture.
Pitts was named a contributor to 60 Minutes and chief national correspondent for the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric in January 2009.
He had been a national correspondent since February 2006. He won a national Emmy Award for his coverage of the September 11, 2001, attacks. He also received a national Emmy for his coverage of the Chicago train wreck in 1999 and a National Association of Black Journalists Award. He received four Associated Press awards and six regional Emmy Awards.
Other major stories covered by Pitts include Hurricane Katrina, the war in Afghanistan, the military buildup in Kuwait, the Florida fires, Elian Gonzalez, the Florida Presidential recount, the mudslides in Central America, and the refugee crisis in Kosovo.
In addition to the events on January 28, there is a Martin Luther King, Jr., exhibit in Stapleton Library, which can be visited during library hours through January 31.
For more information about the commemorative program, contact the African American Cultural Center at 724-357-2455.