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Series of events in Jan.-Feb. honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Black History Month
Posted 12/14/2017 01:25PM
Ronald 'Ron' McCurdy, Ph.D.

Misericordia University will host a series of special events throughout January and February to celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and recognize February as Black History Month. Among the highlights will be a presentation of "The Langston Hughes Project, Ask Your Mama: Twelve Moods for Jazz" by the Ron McCurdy Quartet. The multimedia presentation involves spoken word artistry, live music and images to recreate poet Hughes's vision of the global struggle for freedom.

The Misericordia Martin Luther King schedule includes an ecumenical prayer service involving many different faiths and religious traditions, and a program on nonviolence presented by the Ethics Institute of Northeastern Pennsylvania at Misericordia University. Misericordia also will host a Black Lives Matter student panel discussion and a film series on race relations that will continue into February in honor of Black History Month. All events are open free to the public except where noted.

Described as insightful, wise, poignant, funny and soulful, the multimedia presentation of "Twelve Moods for Jazz" is on Thursday, Jan. 18 at 7:30 p.m. in Lemmond Theater in Walsh Hall. The program is free to staff, faculty and students of Misericordia, and $10 for general admission. Tickets will be available at the door or by calling the Misericordia Box Office at (570) 674-6719. Tickets also are available online at and clicking on The Langston Hughes link on the left-hand side of the page.

Hughes's 12-part jazz poem, "Ask Your Mama," was originally dedicated to Louis Armstrong and scored by Hughes with a mix of music and his poetry linked to topical images of the Harlem Renaissance, highlighting people, places and events of the time, including a youthful Martin Luther King, Jr. His composition was still in the planning stages when Hughes died in 1967. Jazz trumpeter Ronald C. "Ron" McCurdy, Ph.D., serves as music director and composer for the McCurdy Quartet. McCurdy, a professor of music in the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California, has orchestrated the concert based on musical cues suggested by Hughes.

Misericordia University launches the celebration on Monday, Jan. 15, with an ecumenical prayer service calling for peace and understanding in the world. The service at 12 p.m. in the University Chapel in Mercy Hall will feature traditional prayer offerings and blessings by leaders from numerous faiths and religious traditions, including the Jewish, Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, Methodist and numerous Catholic traditions. Coordinators are Sister Jean Messaros, RSM, vice president for mission integration, who will represent the Mercy Catholic tradition, and Rev. Jim Calderone, OFM, Ed.D., executive director of the Ethics Institute, who will represent the Independent Catholic tradition.

On Tuesday, Jan. 16 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., members of the Misericordia community and the public are invited to sign the Charter for Compassion in the lobby of the Banks Student Life Center. The first line of the charter states, "The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves." To see the entire text, go to Throughout the week, all are encouraged to tweet their own pledges or MLK-inspired thoughts with the hash tag, #MUDream and to tag @MisericordiaU.

Also on Tuesday, the university will present the film, "Selma," the first in a series of four films on race. The movie chronicles Rev. King's campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965. Mary Hudson, a civil rights protester and the mother of Dan Kimbrough, assistant professor of communications at Misericordia University, will lead a discussion following the film.

The second film, "The 13th," will be presented on Thursday, Jan. 25. A discussion, under the direction of Justin Nordstrom, Ph.D., associate professor of history, arts and humanities at Penn State Hazleton, and Dana Chalupa, Ph.D., visiting assistant professor of sociology at Misericordia University, will follow.

The screening of "Accidental Courtesy" is on Tuesday, Jan. 30, followed by a discussion hosted by Allan W. Austin, Ph.D., professor of history at Misericordia University.

On Tuesday, Feb. 6, the public is invited to watch the fourth film, "Soundtrack to a Revolution. The discussion with Ryan Watson, Ph.D., assistant professor of film and visual media in the department of Fine Arts at Misericordia University, will follow the screening.

Each of the screenings for the four films begins at 6 p.m. in Lemmond Theater in Walsh Hall.

Misericordia University's Department of English is hosting a Black History Month Poetry Reading on Friday, Feb. 9 from 2:30-4 p.m. in Frank Henry Student Lounge. Rebecca Steinberger, Ph.D., professor of English, is coordinating the program, which will feature poems by African American writers. Light refreshments will be served.

The Ethics Institute will sponsor the program, "Nonviolence Panel Discussion from Differing Religious Perspectives," on Tuesday, Feb. 13 at 6 p.m. in Alden Trust Room 219 of Sandy and Marlene Insalaco Hall. The program will focus on nonviolence, one of the critical concerns of the Sisters of Mercy, who founded Misericordia in 1924. It will include a brief introductory presentation and then a discussion on various perspectives of nonviolence from different faith traditions. Dr. Calderone will serve as moderator.

"Black Lives Matter," a student panel discussion on racism and diversity in America, is Tuesday, Feb. 20 at 6 p.m. in Huntzinger and Alden Trust Rooms 218-219 of Insalaco Hall. Professor Kimbrough will serve as facilitator.


In celebration of Martin Luther King's birthday, jazz trumpeter Ron McCurdy and the Ron McCurdy Quartet will present, 'The Langston Hughes Project, Ask Your Mama: Twelve Moods for Jazz,' a multimedia presentation involving spoken word artistry, live music and images to recreate poet Hughes's vision of the global struggle for freedom. Misericordia's concert on Thursday, Jan. 18 begins at 7:30 p.m. in Lemmond Theater at Walsh Hall.

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