Monday March 20, 2006

Cultural Critic

Cultural critic and scholar Michael Eric Dyson will cap UD's Diversity Lecture Series with a free talk on April 6.

Michael Eric Dyson doesn't shy away from controversy.

In 13 books written in 13 years, Dyson has taken on such issues as Martin Luther King Jr.'s radical legacy in I May Not Get There With You: The True Martin Luther King Jr.; the virtues and crises of hip-hop culture in Holler If You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac Shakur; class warfare in black America in Is Bill Cosby Right? Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?; and most recently, the political and racial fallout from Hurricane Katrina in Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster.

It's no wonder Essence magazine named him one of the most inspiring African-Americans, and Ebony tagged him one of the 100 most influential black Americans. As part of the University of Dayton's Diversity Lecture Series, Dyson will give a free talk at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 6, in the Kennedy Union Ballroom on campus. There's no charge, but tickets are required. Call (937) 229-2545 or order online here.

Dyson is a prolific author, scholar, public intellectual, ordained minister, media commentator and talk radio show host. His syndicated radio program, "The Michael Eric Dyson Show," addresses social, cultural and political issues in a contemporary vein. He has appeared on "The Today Show," "Nightline," "O'Reilly Factor," "The Tavis Smiley Show" and "Real Time with Bill Maher" as well as "Rap City," "Def Poetry Jam" and "The Colbert Report."

"He's one of the more prolific African-American authors of our time. A hundred years from now, the history books will say he followed Cornel West (social commentator and professor of religion at Princeton University) as part of the next generation of influential scholars," said Robert Johnson, vice president of enrollment management at the University of Dayton who has met Dyson. "He confronts our way of thinking from an intellectual basis, such as when he challenged Bill Cosby's thoughts about poverty and African-Americans. What you find with Michael Eric Dyson is someone who challenges the status quo way of thinking about contemporary issues as they relate to black people in America."

Currently the Avalon Foundation Professor in Humanities and Professor of Religious Studies and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, Dyson has been called a "superstar professor" by the Washington Post. He "can rock classroom and chapel alike," according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. Vanity Fair described him as "one of the most graceful and lucid intellectuals writing on race and politics today."

Dyson has been nominated for the NAACP Image Award three times and has won it twice - in 2004 for his book, Why I Love Black Women, and this year for his New York Times' bestseller, Is Bill Cosby Right? Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?

The University of Dayton's Diversity Lecture Series -- part of a larger strategic plan to foster inclusion and diversity on campus and prepare students, faculty, staff and the Dayton community for success in a global society -- is co-sponsored by the offices of the president and provost with support from corporate partners, including the Dayton Daily News, WHIO-TV, WDAO-1210 AM and Markey's Audio Visual. In the past two years, UD's Diversity Lecture Series has drawn such notable speakers to Dayton as Andrew Young, Coretta Scott King, Clarence Page and Nikki Giovanni.

Contact Lynnette Heard, executive director of the president's office, at (937) 229-4122. For an electronic photo, contact Teri Rizvi at (937) 229-3241 or rizvi@udayton.edu.