For the 15th year, Watertown will mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day with the Unity Breakfast, and the keynote speaker is an expert on African-American Culture.
Organizers provided the following information on the event:
Watertown will celebrate its fifteenth Unity Breakfast on Monday, January 19, 2015. The event brings together hundreds of people, representing Watertown’s diverse population, will gather to to remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the man who devoted his life to ending prejudice and racism in our country.
The Unity Breakfast has become a Watertown tradition, with 400 participants and a diverse program that includes a noted keynote speaker, lively choral and vocal performances, essays and art projects by Watertown middle and high school students, and presentation of the annual Unity Award to a distinguished individual or community organization.
This year’s keynote speaker is Dr. Emmett G. Price III, one of the nation’s leading experts on African American Music, Music of the African Diaspora, and African American Culture. In addition to Dr. Price, and adding to the music theme, we are thrilled to welcome Francois Clemmons, an Afro-American singer, performer, playwright and university lecturer. As well as music, the breakfast will include essays by middle and high school students on the meaning of the day, and the annual Unity Award which is presented to an individual or group who has demonstrated outstanding service to the community.
Dr. Price, who holds a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology, is an associate professor of music at Northeastern University, where he also served as chair of the Department of African American Studies from 2008-2012. He is the author of HIP HOP Culture, executive editor of the Encyclopedia of African American Music and editor of The Black Church and Hip Hop Culture: Toward Bridging the Generational Divide. A keynote and public speaker in high demand, Dr. Price has served as a guest lecturer at over 30 universities nationwide and has been a panelist at the prestigious Ford Hall Forum. He currently joins Jim Braude and Margery Eagan every Monday for Open Mic on WGBH’s Boston Public Radio. Finally, as a professional musician, he has performed throughout the United States, the Caribbean, Paris and the United Kingdom.
Francois Clemmons, until his recent retirement, was an artist-in-residence and Twilight Scholar at Middlebury College. Originally a professional opera singer, in the late 1980’s he rediscovered the joy of singing traditional spirituals. Not able to find a professional ensemble that sang spirituals comparable to a Haydn Society or a St. Cecelia Society, he created one. The Harlem Spiritual Ensemble is dedicated to “preserving, sustaining and commissioning new and traditional arrangements of American Negro Spirituals for future generations.”
The Greater Boston Intergenerational Chorus, under the direction of Joanne Hammil, will join Dr. Price and Mr. Clemmons in providing music for the breakfast. The chorus is a diverse group of singers of all ages who sing an eclectic, lively mix of music.
The Unity Breakfast, sponsored by the World in Watertown in collaboration with Survival Education Fund, Inc. and Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice and the Environment, will be held on Monday, Jan. 19, from 9-11:30 a.m. at the Hellenic Cultural Center, 25 Bigelow Avenue, Watertown. Child care will be provided for pre-schoolers. The Hellenic Cultural Center is handicap accessible. Tickets are $10 (children 12 and under free). For group reservations call 617-924-6143 or email firstname.lastname@example.org by Jan. 14. Tickets will be available at the door.