January 26, 2004

Harry Belafonte to keynote Cole forum

By Eric Rangus

Singer, actor and activist Harry Belafonte will keynote the third annual Kenneth Cole Leadership Forum on campus, Jan. 28-29.

The theme of the event is "Many Faces in One Place: Building the Diverse Communi-ty," and Belafonte will deliver the opening address, "A Voice for Social Justice," in Glenn Auditorium, Wednesday, Jan. 28, at 7:30 p.m. WAGA-TV news anchor Amanda Davis will moderate.

Belafonte made a name for himself with his award-winning, decades-long work as an actor, producer and composer, but his activism is at least as worthy as his artistic career. Belafonte has dedicated himself to the fight against hunger and racial inequality; in 1985 he helped organize the "We Are The World" recording to raise money for famine relief in Africa and was named a UNICEF goodwill ambassador in 1987. Recently he has been active in working to reduce gang activity across the United States.

The leadership forum is an initiative of the Office of University-Community Partnerships and the capstone event for the Kenneth Cole Fellowship in Community Building and Social Change, a comprehensive, 12-month program designed to prepare undergraduates to construct strong communities.

The fellowship program was launched in 2001 with a lead gift from the Kenneth Cole Foundation. Fashion executive Cole ('76C), a University trustee, long has used socially conscious messages in marketing his products.

The daylong program on Thursday, Jan. 29, in the Emory Conference Center will include guest speakers, panel discussions and presentations by current Cole fellows on such wide-ranging issues as the innovative ways communities are responding to an increasingly diverse workforce, national and local community building and problem solving, and the role of elected leaders and government in creating a welcoming community for all.

"The community partners will be there as well," said Sam Marie Engle, director of the fellows program, "and they will be giving updates on their progress since working with the fellows six months ago."

For example, at 8:30 a.m. four fellows who worked with Sagal Radio Services (SRS), which provides Somali-language programming to natives of that country in the Atlanta area, will give a brief description of their work. Part of their efforts involved writing a grant proposal; in the fall, that grant was fully funded.

Challenge speakers include John McKnight, professor of public policy at Northwestern University, who will examine the current state of community building both nationally and in Atlanta; and Eddie Glaude Jr., associate professor of religion at Princeton University, who will discuss and challenge the wisdom of using strategies from the civil rights movement to respond to crises in the African American community today.

McKnight will speak at 10:30 a.m. and Glaude at 1:10 p.m. A moderated panel discussion then will review each address. Two other panels will take place on Jan. 29: "Re-facing the Changing Business of People" will feature executives from Coca-Cola and Dewberry Capital Investments as well as partners in the law firms of King & Spalding and Heldrick & Struggles. The panel will assess the roles of corporate leaders in addressing the tensions of Atlanta's increasing diversity as well as the challenges for business thriving in such a marketplace.

"For the People, By the People: A Conversation About Governance for the Diverse Community" at 2:30 p.m. will explore the roles of elected leaders and their governing institutions in creating a welcoming community for all. Among the panelists will be state Sen. Liane Levitan; Anthony Williams, mayor of the District of Columbia; Gordon Quan, mayor pro tem of Houston; and Cathy Woolard, Atlanta City Council president.

Christopher Richardson ('03C), former Student Government Association president and 2002 Cole fellow, will close the event with a call to action; Cole, who will be present throughout the two-day event, will join Richardson up front, as well as offer welcoming remarks at both the Belafonte address   and the all-day forum.

All events are free and open to the public, but forum participants must register online at http://oucp.emory.edu/Info/kennethcolefellows.html or by calling 404-712-9893. For more information and a full forum schedule, visit the Cole fellowship website.