MC celebrates Black History Month

Feb. 5, 2013
Contact: Chloe Kennedy, News and New Media Writer
865.981.8209; chloe.kennedy@maryvillecollege.edu

In observance of National Black History Month, Maryville College’s Black Student Alliance will present “Poetry Night” at 8 p.m., Fri., Feb. 22 in the Clayton Center for the Arts’ Harold and Jean Lambert Recital Hall.

Two spoken word artists, Rudy Francisco and Carvens Lissaint, will present their work during the event, which is free and open to the public.

Francisco, who was born and raised in San Diego, Calif., is the co-host of the largest poetry venue in San Diego. As an artist, he combines activism and poetry to enlighten the minds of those who hear him perform. Through workshops and performances at schools and community centers, he has worked to expose youth to the genre of spoken word poetry. He has also conducted guest lectures and performances at colleges and universities across the country. He is the 2009 National Underground Poetry Slam Champion, the 2010 San Diego Grand Slam Champion, the 2010 San Francisco Grand Slam Champion and the 2010 Individual World Poetry Slam Champion.

Lissaint, a Haitian-American performance artist, was raised in Upper West Side Harlem, New York, and now lives in Washington Heights. He established himself as a spoken word artist in 2006 and went on to win multiple poetry slams across the country and coach award-winning teams. In 2007, he made his transition into musical theater as part of the Hip Hopera Theater troupe, working with Edward A. Reynolds West Side High School, in collaboration with the Metropolitan Theater Opera Guild. He also debuted his high-energy one-man show Walk (directed and co-developed by Queen God-Is and choreographed by Nicco Anann) at Dance Theater Workshop and off Broadway at the 2009 Hip Hop Theater Festival. He is the 2011 Nuyorican Poets Cafe Grand Slam Champion and was recently named one of the Top 30 Black Performance Poets by TheRoot.com.

The Feb. 22 event “aims to expose the Maryville College community to the art of spoken word,” said Larry Ervin, director of multicultural affairs at Maryville College. “The storytellers of old kept the history and the traditions of old alive. Spoken word is that vehicle of today.”

Ervin said Black History Month is “even more relevant today than ever.”

“Contributions of all people to our American way of life cannot be swirled into a sea of forgetfulness,” he said. “This knowledge is a source of encouragement, entitlement and pride for any group of people. All people need to have pride in their culture’s history and future.”

Feb. 7-9 - Eli Wilson, Jr., an ordained minister of church music, will serve as the guest speaker and instructor at the annual Maryville College Voices of Praise (VOP) workshop, Feb. 7-9. The workshop will consist of specialized sessions for choir members, music ministers, choir directors and instrumentalists, which will lead up to a concert scheduled for 2 p.m., Feb. 9 in the Clayton Center for the Arts’ Lambert Recital Hall. Choir sessions are scheduled for 6-9 p.m., Feb. 7, and 7-9 p.m., Feb. 8. A session for music ministers and choir directors is scheduled for 5:30-6:30 p.m., Feb. 8. Wilson will work with instrumentalists from 10 a.m. until noon on Feb. 9. The fee is $5 for individual choir members, and $10 for musicians.

Feb. 15 – The WordPlayers and the Clayton Center for the Arts will present “Lift Every Voice,” an original one-act presentation in drama, song and dance. It tells the story and the influence of the Harlem Renaissance (1919-1929), highlighting important cultural, artistic and political figures and events. The show will begin at 8 p.m. in the Clayton Center’s Ronald and Lynda Nutt Theatre. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for children under 18. For more information please call the box office at 865.981.8590 or visit the Clayton Center website.

Feb. 25-26 - Dr. Randal Maurice Jelks, professor, clergyman and writer, will be the guest speaker for Maryville College’s 2013 February Meetings, scheduled for Feb. 25-26.

He will provide two lectures centered on the 2013 February Meetings’ theme, “Thinking, Acting, and Living for Justice: Lessons from the Civil Rights Movement.”

On Feb. 25, at 7 p.m., Jelks will be speaking on “Benjamin Elijah Mays, Freedom of Conscience, and the Long Civil Rights Movement.” Jelks’ second lecture, “The Challenges and Discomforts of the Prophetic Imagination,” will begin at 1 p.m., Feb. 26.

Both lectures will be in held in the Lambert Recital Hall of the Clayton Center for the Arts and are free and open to the community.

Feb. 28 – “Apollo Night” will be held at 7 p.m. in the Clayton Center’s Harold and Jean Lambert Recital Hall. Modeled after the original “Showtime at the Apollo” show that launched Sept. 12, 1987, at the famous Apollo Theatre in Harlem, N.Y., the event will feature performances by members of the campus and local community. The event is free and open to the public.


Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2013 semester is 1,168.