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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Director Spike Lee to speak at URI
Talk is part of on-going University diversity initiative

KINGSTON, R.I. -- March 22, 2001 -- Acclaimed film director/writer/actor Spike Lee will speak at the University of Rhode Island’s Kingston campus on Wednesday, April 4. His talk, which is free and open to the public, will be in Edwards Auditorium at 5 p.m.

"Spike Lee’s visit is part of an on-going effort to stimulate conversations about mulitculturalism and diversity on campus," said URI sociology professor Calvin B. Peters, noting that some of Lee’s films will be shown and discussed in URI’s residence halls and other student venues prior to the talk.

Lee has established himself as one of Hollywood’s most influential filmmakers. His latest film, Bamboozled, is a blistering satire of network television’s pitfalls and prejudices, a humorous look at how race, ratings and the power lead to a TV writer’s rise and downfall.
Lee’s other most recent films include Summer of Sam, He Got Game starring Denzel Washington, Girl 6 and Get on the Bus. These movies followed some of his most critically acclaimed films Malcolm X, Clockers, and Do The Right Thing.

Lee made his film debut in 1986 with She’s Gotta Have It, which earned the Prix de Jeunesse Award at the Cannes Film festival.

School Daze followed. Lee’s 1989 film, Do The Right Thing, earned an Academy Award nomination for best original screenplay. Lee’s Jungle Fever, Mo’ Better Blues, Clockers, and Crooklyn were also critically well received.

After graduation from Morehouse College, Lee returned to Brooklyn to earn a master’s of fine arts degree in film production from New York University’s Tisch School of Arts. He then founded "40 Acres and A Mule Filmworks" based in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn, where he has resided since childhood.

In addition to his films, Lee has produced and directed numerous music videos for such diverse artists as Miles Davis, Chaka Khan, Tracy Chapman, Anita Baker, Bruce Hornsby, and Michael Jackson.

His visit is sponsored by a grant from the Hewlett Foundation. The grant funds a variety of on-going projects at URI designed to encourage reflection and conversation about differences. It is intended to create time, space, and occasion for students from different backgrounds to interact, to involve faculty more fully, and to provide training and support for faculty and students as they engage in more authentic and meaningful dialogue about often sensitive and sometimes volatile issues.

One project involves groups of URI faculty who are currently meeting regularly to discuss ways to incorporate multicultural perspectives in the curriculum and in co-curricular programming.

In addition, Lynn McKinney, associate dean of the College of Human Science and Services, oversees on-going Community Conversations in the residence halls and other places where students gather.

The grant also supports the course "Multiculturalism: Theory and Practice" offered to URI students in the fall semester. Lynne Derbyshire, assistant professor of Communication Studies, teaches the course.

Part of the URI initiative is regularly-scheduled anchoring events -- public events -- featuring well-known and thought-provoking speakers that are funded by the grant.

"We want to transform the one-time only status that these events generally possess into an event that truly anchors a sustained consideration of the role of difference in our world," says Peters, who along with Bette Erickson, assistant director of URI’s Institutional Development Program, Lynne Derbyshire, and Melvin Wade, director of Multicultural Services, are principal investigators on the grant.

For Information: Calvin B. Peters, 874-4296, Jan Sawyer, 874-2116

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