News & Events
March 3, 2010
UNC Asheville will host an evening with acclaimed Civil Rights leader and songstress Bernice Johnson Reagon at 7 p.m. Friday, March 19, in UNC Asheville's Lipinsky Auditorium. Reagon, who has been selected to give the May 2010 UNC Asheville Commencement Address, will engage the audience in her signature "song-talk" style. The event is free and open to the public; American Sign Language interpretation will be provided.
A native of Georgia, Reagon became involved in the Civil Rights movement as a college student. She was an original member of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee Freedom Singers and a founding member of the Harambee Singers. While a graduate student at Howard University, she served as vocal director of the D.C. Black Repertory Theatre and formed the internationally renowned African American women's a capella ensemble Sweet Honey In The Rock. She led the group until retirement in early 2004.
Professor emeritus of history at American University, Reagon also served as curator at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History and as the 2002-04 Cosby Chair of Fine Arts at Spelman College. However, music remained a constant for Reagon. She acted as music consultant, composer and performer for several film and video projects, including the award-winning "Eyes on the Prize," the Emmy-winning "We Shall Overcome" and the feature film "Beloved." She wrote the seminal texts on the subject of African American sacred music and has been featured on numerous solo and group recordings with Sweet Honey In The Rock.
Reagon's pioneering work in music, activism and scholastics have been recognized with the Heinz Award for the Arts and Humanities, the Leeway National Award for Women in the Arts, the Presidential Medal for contribution to public understanding of the humanities and the MacArthur Fellowship.
For more information, call UNC Asheville's Provost Office at 828.251.6470.