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University to Honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement

Posted 12/20/2011
Posted by David Isgur

The University of Hartford will pay tribute to the Civil Rights Movement and its leaders with a powerful Martin Luther King Jr. Day program on Monday, Jan. 16, at 11 a.m. in Lincoln Theater and with an exhibition of portraits of civil rights leaders by well-known Connecticut artist Robert Templeton. This inspirational celebration of King’s life and legacy is free and open to all.

Templeton (1929–91), who lived in Woodbury, Conn., was a prolific portrait artist. His civil rights portrait collection, Lest We Forget: Images of the Black Civil Rights Movement, portrays those who personified the struggle for black civil rights in the United States. Sixteen pieces from the Lest We Forget collection will be exhibited in the University’s Mortensen Library from Jan. 12 through Feb. 28, 2012. The exhibition is sponsored by First Niagara.

The keynote speaker for the Jan. 16 program will be Maestro Willie Anthony Waters, former general and artistic director of the Connecticut Opera. Waters, who has conducted numerous noteworthy productions for Connecticut Opera, has been a guest conductor for opera companies and symphony orchestras around the world, and is a sought-after lecturer, speaker and master class clinician.

The University of Hartford awarded Waters an honorary doctorate in 2005 for his contributions to the musical life of the city of Hartford. Waters has conducted numerous gospel concerts with orchestras and choirs throughout the country, and concerts celebrating the Martin Luther King holiday, notably with the Hartford Symphony and the Cleveland Orchestra.

Templeton’s series of civil rights portraits began in 1967 while he was in Detroit to do a portrait of children. The race riots were in full swing and, at considerable risk to his own life, he entered the fray to take notes for a Time magazine cover. Templeton chronicled what is believed to be one of the most positive social movements this century.

The University’s Martin Luther King Day program also will feature a performance by a Hartt School instrumental ensemble with vocalist and Hartt faculty member Shawnn Monteiro; a solo performance by vocalist and Hartt alumna Aja Wilson ’10; and spoken word performances by students from the University of Hartford Magnet School and the University High School of Science and Engineering.

In addition, winners of the 2012 Martin Luther King Jr.essay contest will be recognized, and their winning essays will be published in the event program. The topic of the essay contest, like the theme of the upcoming Robert Templeton exhibit, was “Lest We Forget.”