Fairfield University hosts award-winning poet Claudia Rankine as part of MLK Jr. commemorative events

Media Contact: Teddy DeRosa, tderosa@fairfield.edu, 203-254-4000 ext. 2118

Claudia Rankine, New York Times best selling author and winner of multiple literary and image awards, is the keynote speaker at this year’s MLK, Jr. Convocation.

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (January 21, 2015) — Award-winning and internationally acclaimed poet, Claudia Rankine, will be Fairfield University’s keynote speaker at the 2016 MLK, Jr. Convocation, on Wednesday, January 27 at 7 p.m. at the Quick Center for the Arts. Fairfield University’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. observance, “Standing Up to Racism: The Urgency for Change,” celebrating the life and influence of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., will be held from Jan. 25-29.

Ms. Rankine is author of five collections of poetry, two plays — including Provenance of Beauty: A South Bronx Travelogue — and numerous video collaborations. Rankine’s book, Citizen: An American Lyric (2014), won both the PEN Open Book Award and the PEN Literary Award, the NAACP Award and the 2014 National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry. Citizen is the only poetry book to be a New York Times best seller in the nonfiction category. Her work, Nothing in Nature is Private (1994), won the Cleveland State Poetry Prize.

Rankine’s poems have been published in anthologies including: Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present (2003), Best American Poetry (2001), and the Garden Thrives: Twentieth Century African-American Poetry (1996). Among her many awards and honors, Rankine is the recipient of the Poets & Writers’ Jackson Poetry Prize and fellowships from the Lannan Foundation and the National Endowment of the Arts. In 2013, the Academy of American Poets elected her as a chancellor.

Rankine was born in Kingston, Jamaica and earned her BA at Williams College and an MFA at Columbia. She has taught at the University of Houston, Case Western Reserve University, Barnard College and Pomona College. She is the Aerol Arnold Chair at the University of Southern California.

“This year, our University is quite honored to have Claudia Rankine lead our commemoration of Dr. King's legacy,” Kris Sealey, Ph.D., associate professor of philosophy and co-chair of the 2016 MLK Convocation. “Ms. Rankine's work powerfully underscores those affective and visceral moments of contemporary racism, moments that were certainly part of the cultural landscape of Dr. King's life. But also, moments with which so many of us can still identify. We are very fortunate to have this opportunity to engage with her brilliant creativity.”

The event will include presentations of this year’s Vision Awards to three members of the University community. Winners of the co-sponsored Fairfield University/Connecticut Post essay contest for middle-schoolers, will also be recognized.

For more information please contact co-chair, Wylie Smith Blake:
wblake@fairfield.edu or call 203-254-4000, ext. 2668.

Additional events include:

Monday, January 25, 6 p.m. Film and Panel Discussion of Fruitvale Station
DiMenna-Nyselius Library Media Room
Based on the events leading to the death of Oscar Grant, a young man who was killed in 2009 by a police officer at the Fruitvale Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Station in Oakland, California.

Tuesday, January 26, 3:30 p.m. MLK, Jr. Memorial March for Social Justice
Egan Chapel of St. Ignatius Loyola
Students and faculty will join in a Memorial March around campus to commemorate the history of support for social justice and civic activism at Fairfield.

Thursday, January 28, 4 p.m. Performing for Change
Barone Campus Center Oak Room
Performing for Change is an organization committed to spreading awareness of controversial issues, and to inspire positive change on Fairfield University's campus through the performing arts.

Friday, January 29, 10 a.m. Youth Leadership Academy
Barone Campus Center Oak Room
The University will host more than 100 eighth-graders in the Youth Leadership Academy, where they will learn leadership skills, including conflict resolution, anti-bullying techniques, and more.

Friday, January 29, 6 p.m. Poetry for Peace
Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts
Eighth Annual Poetry for Peace event brings elementary school students from local schools to campus to read their poetry.

Pictured: Claudia Rankine, keynote speaker for Fairfield University's MLK, Jr. Convocation on Wednesday, January 27 at 7 p.m.

Vol. 48, No. 80

Fairfield University is a Jesuit University, rooted in one of the world’s oldest intellectual and spiritual traditions. More than 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students from 36 states, 47 foreign countries, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are enrolled in the University’s five schools. In the spirit of rigorous and sympathetic inquiry into all dimensions of human experience, Fairfield welcomes students from diverse backgrounds to share ideas and engage in open conversations. The University is located in the heart of a region where the future takes shape, on a stunning campus on the Connecticut coast just an hour from New York City.

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Posted on January 22, 2016

Vol. 48, No. 80

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