MLK/DOD Events Begin Monday at UW

January 16, 2013
Vy Higgensen will give the keynote talk Thursday, Jan. 24, at 7 p.m. in the Wyoming Union Ballroom.

Wyoming’s civil rights history, panel discussions, a film screening and a keynote address by a prominent media expert and stage producer are among Martin Luther King Jr./Days of Dialogue events scheduled Jan. 21-25 at the University of Wyoming.

“Mind the Gap” is the theme of the 12th annual MLK/DOD. UW honors the continuing impact of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his life and ideals through this celebration, say co-chairs Kate Steiner and Erin Olsen. The activities renew UW's commitment to making the campus and Wyoming a more welcoming and empowering place for people from different backgrounds, heritages, orientations or abilities, they say.

The annual MLK march from the Albany County Courthouse to the Wyoming Union at 4 p.m. Monday, Jan. 21, begins the week’s activities. The Dr. Willena Stanford Community Supper follows at 4:45 p.m. Stanford was a longtime UW African American and Diaspora Studies instructor.

Among other highlights of the annual event is a talk by Phil Roberts, associate professor in the UW Department of History, about the history of Wyoming civil rights. His talk is from 12:15-1:30 p.m. Jan. 22, in the Wyoming Union Family Room.

Two panel discussions covering the topics “I’m Not Racist, But …” and “Exploring the Gap: Faculty Perspective” also are scheduled. The first panel discussion is at noon Wednesday, Jan. 23, and the faculty panel’s presentation is from 3-4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24. Both discussions are in the Wyoming Union Family Room.

The film “Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin” is at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 22, in the Wyoming Union West Ballroom. A reception with the Cheyenne NAACP follows the film.

Media expert Vy Higginsen, a music producer and the first black woman radio personality in New York City’s prime-time market, will deliver the keynote address at 7 p.m. Jan. 24, in the Wyoming Union Ballroom.

Born and raised in Harlem, Higginsen is a recognized black pioneer among the city’s media elite. Her impressive list of firsts:

-- The first black woman radio personality in the prime time New York City market on WBLS; the first woman to host a morning show on New York radio at WWRL; and the first woman in advertising sales at Ebony magazine.

-- The first black woman to produce a drama on Broadway with “Joe Turner's Come and Gone” by American playwright August Wilson.

-- The writer, producer and director of “Mama, I Want to Sing,” the longest-running, off-Broadway musical in American theatre history.

The gospel musical debuted in 1983 and was turned into a film this year. The stage version ran an unprecedented eight years and 2,200 performances at the Heckscher Theatre in East Harlem. From there, the show was presented in cities from Philadelphia to San Francisco, followed by performances in Austria, Japan, Switzerland, London, Italy, Turkey and Greece.

Two singers will perform songs from Higginsen’s stage work after her keynote presentation.

For a complete list of MLK/DOD events, visit the website at

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