Dr. Benjamin Solomon Carson Sr., director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, will deliver the keynote address for the 24th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration Week, Jan. 16-21, at UNC.
Carson gained international recognition in 1987 as the principal surgeon in the 22-hour separation of the Binder Siamese twins from Germany. This was the first time twins joined at the back of the head had been separated with both surviving. In 1997, Carson was the primary surgeon in the team of South African and Zambian surgeons that separated twins joined at the top of the head in a 28-hour operation. This was the first time such complexly joined Siamese twins had been separated with both remaining neurologically normal.
He will speak at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 20 in the Frank Porter Graham Student Union’s Great Hall. Free tickets will be available from the Carolina Union box office beginning Jan. 13.
Carson also has written three best-selling books, Gifted Hands (1990), Think Big (1996) and, most recently, The Big Picture (2000), which explores his life philosophy in light of his experiences in education and medicine.
The Library of Congress selected Carson as one of its “Living Legends” on the occasion of its 200th anniversary in 2000. He recently was appointed by President Bush to serve on the President’s Council on Bioethics.
Carson grew up in poverty in Detroit, and he credits his mother with guiding him toward academic success by requiring him to read at least two books a week and write a report on each for her to read. Years later, Carson would learn that his mother, with only a third-grade education, had been unable to read the reports.
UNC’s celebration week will begin with the 20th annual University-Community Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Banquet at 7 p.m. Jan. 16, featuring keynote speaker Howard Lee ’66 (MSW), chairman of the N.C. Board of Education, who in 1969 became one of the first black mayors in the country. Lee was Chapel Hill’s mayor until 1975 and later was the first African-American to hold a cabinet position in North Carolina when, in 1977, Gov. James Hunt ’64 (LLBJD) appointed him secretary of what was then the Department of Natural Resources and Community Development (now the Department of Environment, Health and Natural Resources). Lee was elected to the N.C. Senate in 1990 and served 10 years as state senator.
Lee also has held positions at UNC, Duke University and N.C. Central University. In February 2003, he was appointed a senior education and budget adviser to N.C. Gov. Mike Easley ’72 and chief executive of the Governor’s Education Cabinet. In April 2003, Easley named Lee to the State Board of Education, and a month later, members of the board unanimously voted Lee to be the chairman.
A group of local business, civic, religious and University representatives sponsors the banquet, which will be held at UNC’s William and Ida Friday Center for Continuing Education. Tickets are $25 and available by calling (919) 962-6962.
The Jan. 20 program also will include the presentation of the 23rd annual Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship to a UNC junior whose activities demonstrate commitment to the humanitarian ideals King espoused.
UNC students will observe the federal holiday on Jan. 17 with a day of service organized by Carolina R.O.C.T.S. (Rejuvenating Our Community Through Service) and beginning at 9 a.m. in room 100 of Hamilton Hall.
At 6 p.m. that day, in the Frank Porter Graham Student Union’s multipurpose room, students will participate in an oratorical contest and panel discussion examining the question: “Are we taking advantage of the promise of opportunity that our forefathers worked so hard for?”
Students, faculty and staff will read poetry inspired by King’s life and work at “He Was a Poem: An Evening of Poetry Inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.,” at 7 p.m. Jan. 18 in the Robert and Sallie Brown Gallery and Museum of the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History.
The Carolina Women’s Center will present a multimedia panel discussion on the participation of women of color in the feminist movement and women in the civil rights movement on Jan. 19 at 7 p.m. in Dey Hall’s Toy Lounge.
At 7 p.m. Jan. 21 in the Frank Porter Graham Student Union Great Hall, student performers will present “I, Too, Sing America,” a performance including song, dance and poetry exploring the history of African-Americans and other minorities in the United States.
The week’s events are sponsored by the Chancellor’s Committee for the Dr. Martin Luther King Birthday Celebration, with the support of numerous UNC groups, including the Carolina Union Activities Board, Office for Minority Affairs, Campus Y, Stone Center, Black Student Movement, executive branch of Student Government, Department of Housing and Residential Education, department of African and Afro-American studies, UNC National Pan-Hellenic Council, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Carolina R.O.C.T.S., Carolina Women’s Center, Residence Hall Association and Department of Athletics.