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Hollywood elite, feminist icon, influential minds to appear in Westfield

Date: 1/26/2010

Jan. 27, 2010.

By Katelyn Gendron

Reminder Assistant Editor

WESTFIELD -- From feminist leaders to satirical journalists to a Hollywood actor, the Westfield State College (WSC) Foundation's Speaker Series has an all-star lineup this semester.

Radio host Michael Eric Dyson, named one of Ebony Magazine's most influential black Americans, will kick off the series on Feb. 4; followed by staff from the online satirical news organization The Onion on Feb. 24; former national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski on March 3; feminist Gloria Steinem on March 31; actor Danny Glover on April 2; and author Greg Mortenson on April 29.

"Michael Eric Dyson, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Gloria Steinem, Greg Mortenson and Danny Glover are all iconic figures whose contributions have had an enormous impact," Evan Dobelle, president of WSC, said. "We are happy to give our students and neighbors the rare opportunity to engage these extraordinary individuals in person."

Dyson, a professor of sociology at Georgetown University and commentator on NPR and HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher," will speak about the societal impacts of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s death.

Dyson will explore such transitions through his book, "April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King Jr.'s Death and How it Changed America."

"[The Speaker's Series] continues to be a roster of world-class speakers who really represent a variety of views," Bob Plasse, assistant to the president, said. "It helps us to reflect on what's happening regionally, nationally and internationally."

Plasse noted the Feb. 24 visit by The Onion staff will allow those in attendance to laugh and joke amidst other more somber speakers in this spring's series.

The Onion produces parodies of current events by modeling after traditional newspapers and broadcast corporations.

In March, Brzezinski will share his experiences as the national security advisor to President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981. He currently serves as a professor of American foreign policy at Johns Hopkins University.

Steinem, a feminist leader, icon and founder of New York Magazine, will speak about her role throughout the women's rights movement during the 1960s and '70s.

Glover will share his experiences in the entertainment industry as well as his life as an activist. He will participate in WSC Foundation's Signature Fundraising Event on April 2.

Mortenson, co-founder of the non-profit organization Central Asia Institute and co-author of bestseller "Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace ... One School at a Time," will close the Speaker's Series on April 29.

Mortenson will speak about his life's work to establish schools and educate those in such war-torn areas as Pakistan and Afghanistan throughout the past 15 years.

For more information about this semester's Speaker Series or for ticket information, visit