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Sue Bush
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Bernice Johnson Reagon To Speak At Williams College

12:00AM / Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Bernice Johnson Reagon
Williamstown - Legendary singer, composer, and human rights activist Bernice Johnson Reagon will speak on "Coalition Building and the Power of Song," on Sat., Nov. 11, 7:30 p.m., at the Thompson Memorial Chapel at Williams College.

Reagon's presentation is the culminating event of the Berkshire Institute for Student Activism, an innovative leadership conference on the Williams campus drawing students from all Berkshire area colleges to address vital human needs in the Berkshires and beyond.

For four decades Reagon has been a major cultural force for freedom and justice --singing, teaching, and speaking out against inequities of all kinds. Probably no one better embodies the transformational power of African American music and cultural history than Reagon, acclaimed in the realms of scholarship, composition, and performance, as well as human rights activism.

Reagon recently retired from performing with Sweet Honey in the Rock, the world-renowned a cappella ensemble she founded in 1973.

She has served as music consultant, composer, and performer for many prize-winning radio, television, and film projects, notably Eyes on the Prize; the NPR series Wade in the Water: African American Sacred Music Traditions; the PBS series Africans in America; and the film Beloved. She is Professor Emeritus of History at American University, Curator Emeritus at the Smithsonian, and served as Cosby Professor of Fine Arts at Spelman College. She has published numerous influential books and essays on African American culture and politics.

Among many awards and honors, she was named a MacArthur Fellow in 1989 in recognition of her pioneering work for social justice.

Reagon grew up in rural Albany, Georgia, a minister's daughter. She joined the Albany civil rights movement while in college, served as a field secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and sang with the SNCC Freedom Singers, who carried the civil rights gospel around the nation and the world.

Reagon's presentation, free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Schumann Program in Democratic Studies, Berkshire Institute for Student Activism, Williams Office of Community Service, and the Chaplain's Office. For more information, email sburns@williams.edu.

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