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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University September 18, 2006 | Vol. 36 No. 3
Belafonte to open MSE Symposium

Harry Belafonte

2006 series will focus on role of America's youth

The Gazette

Whether you agree or disagree with the speaker's point of view, you're sure to leave with plenty to talk and think about when you attend the annual Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium.

Entertainer and activist Harry Belafonte will lead off this year's star-powered series at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 19, at Homewood's Shriver Hall auditorium.

Nicknamed the "King of Calypso," Belafonte popularized the Caribbean musical style and produced Calypso, one of the first albums to sell over 1 million copies. Belafonte is also known for civil rights and humanitarian work and, more recently, for his criticism of the policies of the Bush administration. In 2003, he received the Ideals Award at Johns Hopkins' annual celebration of Martin Luther King Jr., a close friend; he also was the keynote speaker for that event in 1985.

Held every fall since 1967 on the Johns Hopkins Homewood campus, the series — which honors one of the university's longtime presidents — presents an issue of national importance and celebrates a free exchange of ideas. The event is run entirely by undergraduates, who develop the theme, secure speakers, raise funds and handle publicity.

The symposium has a history of attracting some of the world's most prominent leaders, politicians, artists and scholars. Among those who have appeared are Maya Angelou, Carl Bernstein, Michael Bloomberg, Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, Noam Chomsky, Tom Clancy, Wesley Clark, Ann Coulter, Alan Dershowitz, Gerald R. Ford, Jesse Jackson, Ed Koch, Nelson Mandela, Chris Matthews, Eugene McCarthy, Michael Moore, Oliver North, Antonin Scalia, Russell Simmons, Ben Stein and Dr. Ruth Westheimer.

The symposium this year boasts an eight-speaker roster of prominent social activists that also includes politicos, a hip-hop artist and a fashion model. The event also features a debate between the College Democrats and the College Republicans.

Its theme is Finding Our Voice: The Role of America's Youth. Arash Massoudi, an international relations major and co-chair of the symposium, said that the event's committee felt that the nation is currently at a crossroads, as it was a few generations ago.

"The youth of the 1960s came together somewhat to make some changes and form a message. So, we are asking, Why aren't we an activist generation when there is so much conflict going on and so much polarization among Americans?" Massoudi said.

The event's other co-chairs are juniors Steven Farber, an economics major, and Leslie Schoeck, an English and German major. The chairs receive some funding from Student Council and raise the balance from university departments, corporations and foundations.

Events are to take place in Shriver Hall unless otherwise noted. Doors will open at 7:30 p.m., and the event will begin at 8 p.m. Seating is free and open to the public; however, as the events typically draw capacity crowds, the only way to guarantee a seat is to have one reserved by making a donation to the symposium. For details, go to

As of press time, the schedule is as follows:

Ralph Nader

Thursday, Sept. 28. "A Greener Tomorrow: Environmental Issues and the Youth," presented by Ralph Nader, activist attorney and three-time presidential candidate dedicated to protecting consumer rights, the environment and humanitarian issues.

Rev. James Forbes

Thursday, Oct. 12. "A Partnership of Faith: Spirituality and the Youth," presented by the Rev. James Forbes at the Bunting-Meyerhoff Interfaith and Community Service Center. Forbes is the first African-American to serve (since 1989) as senior minister of New York's Riverside Church, one of the largest multicultural congregations in the country.

Jason Alexander

Friday, Oct. 13. "America's Youth: The Best of Times, the Worst of Times," presented by Seinfield co-star Jason Alexander.

Newt Gingrich

Wednesday, Oct. 18. "Living in the Age of Transformation," presented by Newt Gingrich, longtime Republican politician and speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives during the Bill Clinton administration.

Afeni Shakur

Thursday, Oct. 26. "Remember Me: The Living Legacy of Tupac Shakur," presented by poet and former Black Panther Afeni Shakur, mother of the late rapper, whose memory she supports through the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation, which provides art programs for young people.

Petra Nemcova

Thursday, Nov. 2. "Surviving a Disaster and Providing for Children of Lesser Fortune," presented by Petra Nemcova, a Czechoslovakian-born fashion model (and Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue cover girl), who became known to the general public when she was seriously injured and her fiance killed by the tsunami that struck the resort where they were staying in Thailand.

Immortal Technique

Thursday, Nov. 9. "Bringing Truth in the Form of Hip-Hop," performed by hip-hop artist Immortal Technique at the Great Hall in Levering.

Each lecture lasts approximately 45 minutes and is followed by a question-and-answer period and a reception where guests mingle with members of the audience.

The debate between College Republicans and the College Democrats will be held at 8 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 30.

To check for any schedule changes or for more information, go to


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