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Poet headline's Whitney Young Award program

Feb. 25, 2008

KALAMAZOO--The foremost scholar tracing the influence of Bob Marley's lyrics will give the keynote address at Western Michigan University's annual Whitney Young Scholars Award program.

The program, which is free and open to the public, will take place at 5:15 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27, in Room 4010, College of Health and Human Services.

Dr. Kwame Dawes, Distinguished Poet In Residence at the University of South Carolina, will be the keynote speaker. Dawes will talk on "Movement of Jah People: Bob Marley and Socio-political Movements in Jamaica and the Third World."

The Young award is named for Whitney Young Jr., an internationally known social worker, civil rights leader and director of the Urban League who spoke at the dedication of WMU's School of Social Work in 1968.

The school instituted the award in Young's honor shortly after he died suddenly at age 50 in 1971. The award recognizes one undergraduate and one graduate social work student for having put into practice the ideals that Young modeled in his life.

This year's recipients are Pamela Haymon, a master's degree student from Portage, Mich., and Danielle Brown, a bachelor's degree student from Port Austin, Mich.

Haymon has an extensive history of community service and is leading a parenting class for single mothers. Brown has worked on numerous community service and advocacy projects and is mentoring in the Reach and Teach program as well as playing a leadership role in the Washington Writers Academy evening program.

Dawes was born in Ghana and spent most of his childhood in Jamaica and says he has a "spiritual, intellectual and emotional engagement with reggae music." His book "Bob Marley: Lyrical Genius" remains the most authoritative study of Marley's lyrics. Dawes is a prolific writer. His most recent works of poetry include "Brimming," "Impossible Flying" and "Wisteria," all published in 2006. His latest nonfiction work is "Plymouth Rock: a Personal Narrative" while his most recent fiction titles include two forthcoming books, "She's Gone" and "Bivouac."

In addition to the School of Social Work, the 2008 Whitney Young Scholars Award program is being sponsored by University's College of Health and Human Services, Division of Multicultural Affairs, and Lewis Walker Institute for Race and Ethnic Relations. For more information, contact Dr. Don Cooney at (269) 387-3190.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, (269) 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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