The Rev. Al Sharpton, always colorful and occasionally controversial, will headline UNCG's 2009 Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration.
Sharpton will speak Tuesday, Jan. 27, in Aycock Auditorium. His speech begins at 7 p.m.; presentation of UNCG's MLK Service Award to a faculty or staff member will follow.
The event is open to the public, and tickets are free but required. Obtain them by visiting the University Box Office, located in Elliott University Center, when it reopens on Jan. 20.
Tickets are limited to two per person. Seats not occupied by 6:45 p.m. will be filled on a first come, first serve basis.
Sharpton, an icon of the Civil Rights movement, lists Godfather of Soul James Brown, former congressman Adam Clayton Powell and fellow activist Jesse Jackson as his major influences. Sharpton rarely shies away from controversy. He has been accused by some of racial divisiveness while others salute him as a human rights pioneer.
In 2001, Sharpton and three Latino elected officials from New York visited Vieques, Puerto Rico, to protest the U.S. Naval bombing exercises on the island. After visiting Puerto Rican citizens who suffered physical and mental infirmities as a result of the bombing exercises, Sharpton and the other members of the Vieques Four led the protest at the U.S. naval base there. Sharpton spent 90 days in federal prison for his part in the protest.
Sharpton's work on human rights issues has taken him to Sudan, Israel and Europe. In Sudan, he visited the slave camps in a country whose religious war has left thousands of women and children at the hands of terrorist groups. In Israel and Palestine, he met with Prime Minister Shimon Peres and Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat, calling for peace between the warring nations.
Sharpton's visit is sponsored by UNCG's Office of Multicultural Affairs. For more information, contact Alta Thornton Mauro, assistant director of multicultural affairs, at Alta_Thornton@uncg.edu or (336) 334-5090.