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Actor, singer and humanitarian Harry Belafonte to deliver Keith Biennial Lecture Sept. 8

July 19, 2011

DETROIT (July 19, 2011) – The Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights at Wayne State University Law School is pleased to announce its rescheduled Fifth Keith Biennial Lecture featuring prominent actor, singer and humanitarian Harry Belafonte. Belafonte's lecture, "Where We Are Headed," is sponsored by Comerica Bank and Health Alliance Plan. The event will begin at 7 p.m. in Wayne State University's Community Arts Auditorium on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011.

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 deliver this important address. This event will serve as an appropriate kickoff to our fall events and festivities, which will culminate with the Oct. 19 grand opening ceremony for the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights.”

Belafonte official bio
Belafonte official photo
Comerica logo (event sponsor)
HAP logo (event sponsor)
Keith Center homepage
Keith Center feature (Wayne Lawyer)
Keith Center renderings
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“I am very proud that Comerica has the opportunity to partner in furthering Judge Keith's living legacy,” said Caroline Chambers, national manager of diversity initiatives at Comerica Bank. “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 speaker 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 New York University School of Law 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 movie roles and music. He won a Tony Award in 1954 for his Broadway performance in John Murray Anderson's “Almanac,” and starred in 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 a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1986.

The lecture is free and open to the public. RSVP online at https://specialevents.wayne.edu/5thbiennialbelafonte. Parking is 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, visit keithcenter.wayne.edu, email hhughes@wayne.edu or call the Law School Dean’s Office at (313) 577-3620.

The Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights
The Hon. Damon J. Keith’s life has been dedicated to fighting for justice and opportunity. The Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights, made possible through generous gifts from individuals, corporations and foundations, will allow that work to continue at Wayne Law. The center will help the Law School attract and retain outstanding students, support and strengthen its faculty, enhance programming, and promote civil rights in one of the most culturally rich and diverse cities in the United States. Ground was broken for the building on May 17, 2010, and the grand opening celebration is scheduled for Oct. 19, 2011.

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