The University Record, February 15, 1999

Ross, Smiley featured in African Heritage Month program

By Donna L. Ullrich
U-M-Flint

U-M-Flint’s African Heritage Month Program, coordinated by the Department of Africana Studies, features two nationally recognized speakers Feb. 19.

The Thurgood Marshall Breakfast will feature Kevin Andrew Ross, who gained notoriety as the prosecutor in the Reginald Denny trial. He will discuss the U.S. justice system and its treatment of African Americans.

In 1997, Ross was named by the Los Angeles Business Journal as one of the city’s “up and coming” leaders. He was appointed to the L.A Municipal Court in January.

Born in south central Los Angeles in the 1960s, Ross attended Morehouse College, where he served as student government president and representative to the college’s board of trustees. He earned a law degree at Southwestern University’s School of Law and was admitted to the California bar in 1991.

The breakfast begins at 9 a.m. Ticket information and reservations are available by calling (810) 762-3353. The free, public lecture begins at 10 a.m.

Black Entertainment Television (BET) talk show host and author Tavis Smiley will begin his day on campus in the UCEN Kiva with an informal dialogue with students about “Minority Student Success at Predominately White Institutions.” At 7 p.m., Smiley will speak at a free, public event in the Harding Mott University Center Kiva. Smiley will autograph copies of his books following the program. The evening includes performances by the African American Studies performance group, Axe, and the U-M-Flint Gospel Choir.

Smiley is the host of “BET Tonight with Tavis Smiley” and the author of On Air: The Best of Tavis Smiley on the Tom Joyner Morning Show. He received critical acclaim for Hard Left: Straight Talk About the Wrongs of the Right. He also appears regularly as a political analyst on CNN.

Smiley was reared in Bunker Hill, Ind., one of 10 children. He graduated from Indiana University, where he studied political science and was on the debate team. Following college, he moved to Los Angeles, where he worked for then-Mayor Tom Bradley.

The day of events is co-sponsored by the Office of the Chancellor, the Office of Educational Opportunity Initiatives, the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Management, the Special Events Committee, the City of Flint Mayor’s Office of Equal Opportunity Contract Compliance, The Flint Journal, and the Flint Public Library.