Yesterday evening, The Kennedy Center and Georgetown University hosted the annual Let Freedom Ring Celebration, a musical celebration commemorating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This year’s concert featured a special performance by Grammy-winning vocalist Bobby McFerrin. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama also attended.
Toddchelle Young (COL ’12) delivered the invocation and included prayers for peace in Syria, for survivors of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, “all those affected by natural disasters in 2011,” and for the presidential candidates running in the 2012 election.
Clarence Jones was presented the John Thompson Legacy of a Dream Award by University president John J. DeGioia and former Men’s Basketball Head Coach John Thompson, Jr. This award is given to an individual or organization whose contributions to community service or social justice reflect the values and ideals of Dr. King. Jones was a speech writer and advisor to Dr. King, and was instrumental in distributing his famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail”. He is currently a Scholar-Writer in residence and a Visiting Professor at Stanford University.
Most famous for his hit, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” McFerrin’s performance was very interactive. McFerrin performs a cappella with his four octave range, and at the Kennedy Center he invited the audience as a whole to participate in the performance (to understand his style, you can watch this video of him). McFerrin closed his set with an innovative rendition of The Beatles’ “Black Bird”.
The first week (ok, half week) of school is over, and it’s a three day weekend. It’s the middle of the winter but the weather could not be more pleasant, and there’s a good chance you don’t have any daunting homework assignments yet. In other words, there are no excuses for staying on campus all three days.
DC rapper Tabi Bonney will be taking the stage at the Black Cat at 9 p.m. Check out some of his work here. The National Gallery will also hold a celebration for Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday at 7 p.m., a free event that requires reservations. And don’t miss trombonist Jeff Bradshaw perform from his wide palette of work, ranging from funk to gospel. He’s playing at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage at 6 p.m. for free.
On Sunday, get cultured with the new art exhibit She Got Game at the Arlington Arts Center. And if you’re not up to going to mass, you can listen to a gospel choir at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage (6 p.m.).
End the weekend at the Kennedy Center with Bobby McFerrin, famous for his one-hit-wonder “Don’t Worry, Be Happy“. The 6 p.m. performance is part of the “Let Freedom Ring” tribute, put on by Georgetown in celebration of MLK’s birthday. Check out the complete schedule of events for the festival here.
Speaking Wednesday, President DeGioia was incredibly excited for McFerrin’s performance:
Mr. McFerrin was a visiting faculty member here, about ten years ago, and spent the fall with us, and it was fantastic. So I can only imagine what it’s going to be like with him on Monday night.
On Wednesday evening, President John DeGioia held his biannual conversation with campus media. Over the hour-long discussion, DeGioia discussed a wide variety of subjects, including the capital campaign, the campus plan, campus safety, Georgetown’s major construction projects, diversity initiatives, and the University’s international programs. Next week, the Voice will offer complete analysis of President DeGioia’s press conference.
Before taking questions, the president reflected on the broad themes of his fall semester:
“It was a great fall, I just think we had a terrific fall. For me, it was kind of driven by a couple of big things. We had to launch the public phase of the campaign. That was really quite an extraordinary weekend for us. It was us at our best and I was glad we were able to have such an inclusive experience with so many, including the big tent on the front lawn. Our fundraising success has continued very well, we’re over the halfway mark in the campaign, at the halfway mark. We feel very encouraged by the generosity of our community. We’re just going to keep at it, our highest priority is scholarships, support for financial aid. Given the challenging nature of the economy I don’t think we could have a more important priority- that priority emerged over roughly 8 years of planning going back to 2003, but certainly characterized all of the years of our quiet phase- that was our most dominant priority. We actually went out publicly with that priority in the quiet phase in a series of town halls across the country, where I talked about what we call the 1789 Scholarship Imperative, which is our way of characterizing the financial aid piece.
I think there were other issues that dominated my time- the relationship with the community and our engagement in the city was part of that. This is our cycle, to submit our campus plan and we’ve completed our public hearing on November 17th. And we have our final filing of documents this Friday, and on February 9th we have a read-out from the Board of Zoning where they think they’re going to come down in terms of the conditions for Georgetown, and we’ll expect some time later this spring, maybe mid-April, maybe May, that will be our expectation that we’ll get a written report, and that will give us a sense of the position of the Board of Zoning. But I think as you know, this was a three-year effort, but also really it’s not a episodic experience, it really is a full immersion for ten years with deep engagement with the community and lots of conversation. It just becomes particularly focused in roughly the final two years of that ten-year period where you deeply engage in the formal submission of documents to various city agencies and the like. So we went through that.
Yesterday, a line wrapped all the way around the Kennedy Center for free tickets to 2011′s Let Freedom Ring Celebration, a yearly concert presented by the Kennedy Center and Georgetown University celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.
This year, Dr. Joseph Lowery received the John Thompson, Jr. Legacy of a Dream Award, for his work to better the lives of others. Dr. Lowery is best known for his work in the Civil Rights movement and for giving the benediction at President Obama’s inauguration in 2009, the same year he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Jarvis Matthews (COL ’12) gave the invocation, and, using Dr. Lowery’s words, reminded us to “turn to each other, not on each other.”
The event’s featured headliner was Patti LaBelle, “Queen of Rock, Godmother of Soul, and High Priestess of Good Vibrations.” LaBelle was a force of nature that had to be seen to be believed. LaBelle made her grand entrance teetering above seven-inch platform Louboutins to a roaring audience already on its feet. She quickly changed into a shorter pair of heels within reach on top of the piano.
LaBelle was joined by the Let Freedom Ring Celebration Choir, which featured Georgetown University students and singers from different churches in Washington, D.C.
The B-52s Wednesday, January 19, 9:30 Club ($45), doors at 7 p.m.
The B-52s have been legendary for their campy antics since their inception in 1976. “Love Shack” and “Rock Lobster” rank 243rd and 146th respectively on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Besides, how many more opportunities will you have to hear them live?
With soul music blaring in the background, Michael Eric Dyson stepped on the stage of Gaston Hall this evening to address several hundred members of the Georgetown community. Blending humor and poignant insights into American society, Dr. Dyson delivered a lecture entitled “No Dreams Deferred?: Black Aspirations form Martin Luther King Jr. to Jay-Z.”
Dr. Dyson began the lecture with a reference to Martin Luther King’s dream for the “American experiment” and the obstacles that stood in the way for his generation. He went on to traverse the next forty of years of American history by incorporating literary quotations, rap lyrics, and historical insights.
The speech even carried a political bent as Dyson reflected on the significance of Senator Obama’s candidacy for President forty years after Dr. King’s assassination. By the end of his thirty minute speech, it was easy to see why Cornell West called him “the most talented rhetorical acrobat in the academy.”