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Media Expert, Producer Vy Higginsen Keynote Speaker at UW Celebration

December 12, 2012
Woman smiling
Vy Higginsen

Media expert Vy Higginsen, a music producer and the first black woman radio personality in New York City’s prime-time market, will be the keynote speaker for the 2013 Martin Luther King Jr. March and Days of Dialogue (MLK/DOD) celebration Jan. 21-25 at the University of Wyoming.

Her talk, free and open to the public, will be Thursday, Jan. 24, at 7 p.m. in the Wyoming Union Ballroom. Her speech will be one of many varied presentations during the weeklong celebration.

“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.

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 international acclaim with performances in Austria, Japan, Switzerland, London, Italy, Turkey and Greece.

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

Higginsen speaks from the heart through a lifetime of accomplishment. Among her many titles are producer, publisher, playwright, lyricist, author, editor, radio personality, educator, philanthropist and interfaith minister.

As founder and executive director of the Mama Foundation for the Arts, Higginsen is the primary force behind her foundation's daily duties and its long-term goals. The foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to nurturing talented black youths in the arts.

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

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

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