“DNA” and SU Celebrate Civil Rights Activist
Musician and radio host Derrick “DNA” Ashong headlined Susquehanna’s celebration of the soul and spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. on Jan. 20.
Keynote speaker Ashong is a Harvard-educated talent who gained national attention after his recorded thoughts on Barack Obama at a 2008 Democratic debate became one of YouTube’s most downloaded videos of that year. The lead singer of the band Soulfege, Ashong won Billboard Magazine’s World Song Contest in 2007. He appeared in the role of Bukei in Steven Spielberg’s Amistad. Most recently, the 35-year-old landed his own show on Oprah Winfrey’s SIRIUS XM radio station. Ashong has been called the voice of a new generation, finding ways to inspire, engage and move people to action for social change.
In addition to Ashong’s address, the evening featured music by the Susquehanna University Wind Ensemble, directed by Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Bands Eric Hinton. The group performed Joseph Schwantner’s New Morning for the World: Daybreak of Freedom, which incorporates excerpts of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. The performance marked one of the few times the piece has been performed on a college campus, due to its difficulty.
The Susquehanna University Choir, directed by Associate Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities Rodney Caldwell, also performed. In addition, Mifflinburg High School students Alicia Pucci, who took first place in the Martin Luther King essay contest, read her winning entry, “A Legacy of Leadership.” The Rev. Mark Wm. Radecke, associate professor of religion and university chaplain, served as master of ceremonies, and remarks from University President L. Jay Lemons rounded out the program.
Contributing writers to People & Places are Audrey Carroll ‘12, Megan McDermott ‘14 and Karen Jones, assistant director of media relations.