Excellence Through Diversity Series to Feature Play Highlighting Contemporary African-American Experiences

Excellence Through Diversity Series to Feature Play Highlighting Contemporary African-American Experiences

The newest event in UVA Engineering’s year-long Excellence Through Diversity Distinguished Learning Series will feature Daniel Beaty, performer and activist on race and class inequity. Beaty will present his one-man, 40-character play entitled “Emergency,” an illustration of the widely varying experiences of African Americans in post-slavery America.

The free performance will take place on Tuesday, January 24, at 5 p.m. in UVA’s Newcomb Hall Theatre, 180 McCormick Rd. Registration is requested; please click here. Beaty’s appearance is hosted in partnership with the University of Virginia Office of the Dean of Students, College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, McIntire School of Commerce and the School of Nursing. The event is in conjunction with this month’s celebrations of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and achievements.

The Excellence Through Diversity Distinguished Learning Series began with a presentation from astronaut and physician Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman in space and leader of the 100 Year Starship initiative to make interstellar travel a reality within the next century.

The series also has included Thomas Page McBee, a transgender author and expert on gender issues, and Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, a nationally recognized sociologist who addressed the problem of structural racism in higher education in the United States.

The Excellence Through Diversity series is an initiative of UVA Engineering’s new associate dean for diversity and engagement, John Fitzgerald Gates. Engineering Dean Craig Benson appointed Gates last year to lead the school in pursuing excellence by attracting and supporting the success of more students and faculty members from populations that are underrepresented in engineering, such as women, African Americans and Latinos. Diversity of talent and thought in engineering is crucial to solving the global technological challenges of the future, Benson has said.

Gates is working with faculty, staff and students to redefine diversity as “excellence expressing itself through the intersection of perspectives and lived experiences,” rather than traditional definitions focused on proportional representation of minorities and women in engineering.

Upcoming events in UVA Engineering’s Excellence Through Diversity series include:

  • – Joy DeGruy, researcher, educator and author of “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome” – February 23
  • – Claude Steele, author of “Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do” – March 15
  • – Tim Wise, anti-racism scholar, philosopher and author of “White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son” – April 4

Watch UVA Engineering’s Web site, www.engineering.virginia.edu, for registration details for those events.

About “Emergency”

Present Day. A slave ship emerges in front of the Statue of Liberty, sending New York City into a whirlwind of emotion and exploration in this explosive solo tour de force featuring slam poetry, multi-character transformation and song. Artist Daniel Beaty portrays a cast of characters, including a homeless man, a scientist, a Republican business executive, a street vendor and an 11-year-old boy from the projects, who all respond to the unexpected phenomenon. A slam poet named Rodney is scheduled to perform in a poetry slam that evening, but is delayed by having to retrieve his schizophrenic father from the site of the ship’s emergence. While Rodney and his brother go to see about their dad, the audience is treated to the poetry slam already in progress. Through the characters’ individual responses to this surreal ship appearance and their varied testimonies on identity and personal freedom, “Emergency” weaves a stirring commentary on what it is to be human and the longing to be free. This play is the recipient of an Obie Award for Writing & Performance as well as numerous other awards.