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Derrick ‘DNA’ Ashong to Speak at King Commemoration

Published on January 12, 2011

SELINSGROVE —Musician and radio host Derrick “DNA” Ashong will headline Susquehanna University’s celebration of the soul and spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. on Jan. 20 at 7 p.m. in the Degenstein Center Theater. The event is free and open to the public.

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.

“He’s perfect to talk about activism and the need for us to move forward as a unified society,” said Armenta Hinton, assistant director and coordinator of multicultural leadership for the Center for Diversity and Social Justice at Susquehanna. “I think his youth will really appeal to and engage students.”

In addition to Ashong’s address, the evening will feature music by the Susquehanna University Wind Ensemble, directed by Eric Hinton. The group will perform Joseph Schwantner’s “New Morning for the World: Daybreak of Freedom,” which incorporates pieces of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, to be narrated by James Lincoln. The performance will mark one of the few times the piece has been performed on a college campus, due to its difficulty.

“It will be a very moving and powerful piece that will give the event a wonderful celebratory and commemorative feel,” said Hinton.

The Susquehanna University Choir, directed by Rodney Caldwell, also will perform, and Mifflinburg High School student Alicia Pucci will read her winning entry, “A Legacy of Leadership,” from the Martin Luther King essay contest. Second-place honors in the essay contest went to Caitlin Edinger, also of Mifflinburg High School.

University Chaplain Mark Radecke will serve as master of ceremonies, and remarks from University President L. Jay Lemons will round out the program.


Karen M. Jones


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