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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University January 12, 2004 | Vol. 33 No. 17
Cicely Tyson Headlines MLK Tribute

Inspired by Martin Luther King Jr., Cicely Tyson has become a pioneer and leader in the world of performing arts.

The actress, activist and humanitarian will speak, receive Ideals Award

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

Actress, activist and humanitarian Cicely Tyson will be the featured guest for Johns Hopkins' annual Martin Luther King Jr. birthday remembrance, an event that takes place this year from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 16.

Begun in 1982, the Johns Hopkins Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration honors the Nobel Peace Prize winner's legacy of nonviolent activism and community service. It will take place in Turner Auditorium on the East Baltimore campus and will be broadcast to several other university and health system locations.

Keynote speaker for the event is Tyson, a respected and honored talent in American theater and film, who has become an equally admired and dedicated activist and humanitarian. Tyson will also receive the Ideals Award in recognition of her outstanding service and commitment to King's principles.

Levi Watkins, founder of the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Celebration and chair of its committee, said that Tyson follows in the tradition of speakers who knew King personally or who were spurred on by his words.

"She was inspired and motivated by Dr. King to become a pioneer and leader in the world of the performing arts, which she became," said Watkins, associate dean for postdoctoral programs and professor of cardiac surgery at the School of Medicine. "She's also become a leader in the Civil Rights movement and a wonderful and active humanitarian."

A native of New York, Tyson began her career in the 1950s as a fashion model. Her first film was an uncredited role in Carib Gold in 1957.

Tyson is perhaps best known for her performance in the title role of The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, in which she played a slave woman ranging in age from 19 to 110 and for which she received an unprecedented two Emmy Awards. In addition, she won an Emmy for best supporting actress in the TV film The Oldest Confederate Widow Tells All and was nominated for an Emmy for the NBC series Sweet Justice.

Since the mid-1970s, Tyson has been active in world affairs and humanitarian efforts. As a chairperson for UNICEF, Tyson in 1985 traveled throughout Africa on a fact-finding mission. In 1988, the president of Zimbabwe invited her to participate in a conference called "Children on the Front Line." That same year she flew to the Ivory Coast to assist in the fund raising for the formation of the children's organization Ndaya.

A champion for youth, Tyson each year sets aside one month to visit college campuses across the country and speak to students on such topics as human rights, education, race relations, teen pregnancy and self-esteem.

In 1996, the New Jersey Board of Education renamed an East Orange middle and high school, which has 700 primarily underprivileged students, the Cicely Tyson School of Performing and Fine Arts. Tyson teaches a master class there, and says that she considers the naming one of her most meaningful accolades.

She holds a record 12 Image Awards as best actress from the NAACP and has received awards from such civil rights organizations as PUSH, CORE, the SCLC and the Martin Luther King Jr. Center, among others.

In 1974, Tyson co-founded the internationally celebrated Dance Theater of Harlem. She currently serves on its board, as well as on the boards of the American Film Institute, Urban Gateways and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. A founding member of the Coalition for a Healthy and Active America, Tyson in 2002 was appointed by President George W. Bush as a commissioner of the National African American Museum of History and Culture.

In 2003, Tyson received the National Women's Law Center Award, the Ellis Island Family Heritage Award and was a featured speaker at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit.

The Johns Hopkins Ideals Award, an occasionally bestowed honor, will be presented to Tyson at Friday's MLK Jr. Commemoration, which typically draws about 1,000 people.

The celebration also will include the 12th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Awards ceremony, in which seven individual Hopkins employees and a team of four from JHH will be honored for demonstrating through community service the spirit of volunteerism and citizenship that characterized King's life.

The Unified Voices Choir, a gospel group whose ranks include Hopkins staff and community members, will provide musical entertainment.

Those who are unable to attend in person can view the event on closed-circuit television at Homewood's Hodson Hall; APL's Kossiakoff Center; Bayview's Carroll Auditorium; and JHH's Tilghman Auditorium in Hurd Hall and Patient Channel 60.


The 2004 Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration

Keynote speaker is Cicely Tyson, Ideals Award winner

Music by The Unified Voices Choir

Presentation of MLK Jr. Community Service Awards to 11 Hopkins employees

Friday, Jan. 16, noon to 1:30 p.m.
Turner Auditorium, East Baltimore

Closed circuit locations ... APL: Kossiakoff Center; Bayview: Carroll Auditorium; Homewood: Hodson Hall; JHH: Hurd Hall, Tilghman Auditorium and Patient Channel 60


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