National Symposium to Address Issues From Civil War to Civil Rights, September 5 and 6

Thursday, August 1, 2013

CONTACT: Sarah Snyder

College Park, MD — It has been 150 years since the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation and 50 years since the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, yet still, some challenging questions remain. Are we really free and equal? How far have we come? How much further is there to go?

On September 5 and 6, the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at UMD in partnership with UMD’s School of Public Policy and School of Public Health, will host a national symposium entitled Civil War to Civil Rights: A Well-Being of a Nation to reflect on these very questions. Keynote speakers include activists Julian Bond and Marian Wright Edelman (who both participated in the March) as well as writer, commenter, and cultural critic, Touré. Activists, artists, students, faith leaders and scholars will also share stories about the work being done locally and nationally through today's civil rights movements. Utilizing movement and creative framing, choreographers Liz Lerman and Vincent Thomas will help participants synthesize and digest the issues addressed during the symposium.

The symposium will culminate with a performance by jazz bassist Christian McBride and his reincarnation of The Movement Revisited, a four-part suite dedicated to four major figures of the Civil Rights Movement: Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The performance will feature his Big Band and Washington DC’s Heritage Signature Chorale with spoken word selections performed by special guests, including civil rights activist and artist Harry Belafonte.

The Civil War to Civil Rights: A Well-Being of a Nation symposium commences the Clarice Smith Center’s involvement in The National Civil War Project, a multi-city, multi-year collaboration between four universities and five performing arts organizations to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War. The Center is in a partnership with CENTERSTAGE in Baltimore, MD.

About Civil War to Civil Rights: A Well-Being of a Nation

As part of its role in The National Civil War Project, the Clarice Smith Center is dedicated to exploring the ways in which the Civil War still resonates today. Paul Brohan, Director of Artistic Initiatives at the Clarice Smith Center notes, “With the Civil War as the genesis of the civil rights movement in this country, the symposium will examine issues of the Civil War through the lens of our nation’s civil rights struggles; its scholarly presentations and stimulating artistic experiences will place the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in its historic context, both as the culmination of the struggle since the Emancipation Proclamation and as the stage-setting for a new generation of civil rights issues that reveal the important— but often hidden — inequalities of our time.”

About the Keynote Addresses

Thursday, September 5, 2013

6 – 6:45PM                         Opening reception

7 – 8:15PM                         Keynote: Why the March on Washington Still Resonates Today
                                           Julian Bond, speaker
                                           Introduction by UMD student Jazz Lewis

Fifty years ago, and 100 years following the Civil War, more than 250,000 people gathered on the National Mall in Washington, DC to mount a peaceful protest for jobs and freedom for African Americans. One of the largest rallies for human rights in our history, it fueled support for the Civil Rights Movement and led to the passage of legislation that transformed our nation. Civil rights leader and activist Julian Bond was at the March and has devoted his career to fighting for human equality.

Friday, September 6, 2013

3:30 – 4:45PM                   Keynote: Still Marching: The Work That Lies Ahead
                                          Marian Wright Edelman, speaker
                                          Preceded by creative framing by Liz Lerman and Vincent Thomas

The March on Washington paved the way for major changes in our country. But the struggle for equality continues in the fight for equal access to health care, education, and a shot at living the American dream.  Marian Wright Edelman, a participant in the March and a lifelong activist for racial justice and children’s rights, will consider how far we’ve come- and how far we have to go to achieve its goals.

4:45 – 5:30PM                   Marching Forward: A Call to Action by Touré

Generations that have come after the March on Washington know a transformed America, in which discrimination, based on race is prohibited, and equal access for everyone is protected under the law. In spite of such advances, the same laws that resulted from the March are at the forefront of discussion and debate today— most notably, with the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that invalidates a key component of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Writer, commentator and cultural critic Touré will discuss what the movement means to post-Civil Rights generations and deliver a call to action to continue working toward the movement’s goals.     

For a full symposium schedule, which includes 15-minute TerpTalks that address issues related to equality, peace and freedom, please click here.


The symposium is free and open to the public, but requires a reservation. Please reserve your spot here. Tickets for Christian McBride’s The Movement Revisited, featuring spoken word by Harry Belafonte, are  $40/$10 (Regular/Student), and can be purchased online or by calling (301) 405-ARTS (2787).


The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland is a collaborative space shared by the School of Music (SOM), the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) and the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library.  The Clarice Smith Center presents performances and programs by visiting artists as well as by students and faculty of SOM and TDPS in an environment of creative learning, exploration and growth. A national model for a performing arts center on a major research university campus, the Center enables innovative partnerships and extraordinary experiences.

The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center is supported by a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency dedicated to cultivating a vibrant cultural community where the arts thrive. An agency of the Department of Business & Economic Development, the MSAC provides financial support and technical assistance to nonprofit organizations, units of government, colleges and universities for arts activities. Funding for the Maryland State Arts Council is also provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. 

This project was made possible by a grant from the Maryland Humanities Council, through support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or the Maryland Humanities Council. This program is also supported by the Prince George’s Arts and Humanities Council

The National Civil War Project is a radical multi-city, multi-year collaboration between four universities and five performing arts organizations to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War. The American Civil War is arguably one of the most significant times in American history, an era that raised issues still relevant today. The National Civil War Project will include the commissioning of original works for the stage as well as create new arts-integrated academic programs through 2015. A national initiative symbolizing the geographic scope of the Civil War, the Project is inspired by noted choreographer and MacArthur “Genius” Fellow Liz Lerman and includes Alliance Theatre and Emory College Center for Creativity & Arts at Emory University in Atlanta, GA; American Repertory Theater and Harvard University in Cambridge, MA; Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater and The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.; and CENTERSTAGE in Baltimore, MD and the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland in College Park, MD.