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PR # 167 March 5, 2009


The Paul Robeson Institute for Ethics, Leadership, and Social Justice at Raritan Valley Community College will present ?An Evening in Conversation with Harry Belafonte,? Friday, April 24, at 8 p.m., in the Edward Nash Theatre at the College?s North Branch Campus.

Belafonte?s talk, ?Where We Stand," will focus on where the artist stands personally and professionally, touching on social and racial issues over the past three decades. A question-and-answer session will follow his address.

Harry Belafonte has been called ?the consummate entertainer?? an artist in every field in which he has participated: a concert singer; a recording artist; and a movie, Broadway and television star and producer. Born in Harlem, he served two years in the US Navy before joining the Dramatic Workshop of the New School of Social Research, studying alongside such classmates as Marlon Brando, Walter Matthau, Bea Arthur, Rod Steiger and Tony Curtis. Belafonte received a Tony award for his first Broadway appearance in John Murray Anderson?s Almanac .

Since that impressive beginning, Belafonte has had an incredible career, with notable highlights: His RCA album, Calypso , made him the first artist in industry history to sell over one million LPs. As the first black television producer, he won an Emmy for the CBS production of An Evening With Belafonte , directed by Norman Jewison. And at the dawning of his cinematic film career, Carmen Jones took top critical honors and attracted Oscar nominations.

In the early 1950s, Belafonte met a young Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on his historic visit to New York. Belafonte and King developed a deep friendship that Belafonte considers as one of the most precious of his experiences. Dr. King said of his friend, ?Belafonte?s global popularity and his commitment to our cause is a key ingredient to the global struggle for freedom and a powerful tactical weapon in the Civil Rights movement here in America. We are blessed by his courage and moral integrity.?

Belafonte was appointed by President John F. Kennedy as Cultural Advisor for the Peace Corps and served for five years. He also was active in the ending of the oppressive Apartheid government of South Africa and the release of his friend, Nelson Mandela.

Belafonte has been honored by such diverse groups as the American Jewish Congress, the NAACP, the City of Hope, Fight for Sight, The Urban League, The National Conference of Black Mayors, the Anti-Defamation League of B?nai B?rith, the ACLU, the State Department, the Boy Scouts of America, Hadassah International and the Peace Corps. He has received awards from the Bronx Community College for his work with children; the Albert Einstein Award from Yeshiva University; the Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace Prize; and the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors for excellence in the performing arts. The first recipient of the Nelson Mandela Courage Award, Belafonte was honored at the White House with the 1994 National Medal of Arts for his contributions to our nation?s cultural life.

Disturbed by cruel events unfolding in Africa as a result of war, famine and drought, Belafonte set in motion the wheels that led to ?We Are the World? in 1985. In 1987, Belafonte accepted the appointment as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, making him the second American to hold this title ? the first was Danny Kaye. Since that time, Belafonte has continued to devote himself globally to civil and human rights issues, focusing in particular on the United States and Africa.

The April 24 program offers guests four options for tickets:

* Friends of the Paul Robeson Institute ($100: includes one reserved seat to the event, attendance at the 7 p.m. dessert reception with artist, recognition in the program and membership in the Robeson Institute)

* Supporter of the Paul Robeson Institute ($50: includes one reserved seat to the event, attendance at the 7 p.m. dessert reception with artist and membership in the Robeson Institute)

* General admission ($20: includes single ticket to 8 p.m. event)

* Student admission ($10: must present student ID along with ticket)

For tickets, call the Box Office, 908-725-3420. To purchase tickets online, visit www.raritanval.edu and select ?Robeson Institute? from Quick links. For additional information, contact Eva Fontanez, 908-526-1200, ext. 8939.

RVCC, located on Route 28 and Lamington Road in North Branch, NJ, and serving Somerset and Hunterdon County residents for 40 years, offers more than 90 associate degrees and certificates. In addition, customized training programs and non-credit courses are available for those seeking personal and professional development.

The College is committed to offering a quality and affordable education through effective teaching, liaisons with the community?s businesses and state-of-the-art technology. For further information, visit www.raritanval.edu .

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