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Donzaleigh Abernathy to Celebrate Black History Month in Utah

January 9, 2007 — On February 7 and 8, 2007, Continuing Education, the Office of Diversity, and the Office of Institutional Advancement at the University of Utah will celebrate Black History Month with Donzaleigh Abernathy, daughter of Reverend Ralph David Abernathy. Donzaleigh is the youngest daughter of Rev. Abernathy, who co-founded the Civil Rights Movement with his closest friend, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. As far back as she can remember, Donzaleigh’s father greatly impacted her life, leading her to publish a book, Partners to History, and to create a play, NIAGARA REMEMBERS JOHN BROWN, honoring Black History month. She will bring both of these to Utah in early February, in public appearances on February 7 and 8.

Donzaleigh says “I am thrilled to join the University of Utah in celebrating the Civil Rights Movement during Black History Month. As I look forward to learning more about Salt Lake City and Park City, I hope that the local community will take this opportunity to learn more about me, my father, and our work.”

On Wednesday, February 7, at 6:00 PM, Donzaleigh and Dar Dixon, acclaimed film, television, and theater actor, will perform the two-person play they wrote, NIAGARA REMEMBERS JOHN BROWN, about Black history at the U of U Park City Campus (1255 Park Avenue). NIAGARA REMEMBERS JOHN BROWN is a multimedia reading of monologues, letters, and speeches from people that lived through the pre-Civil War Era. In 1906, Nina Gomer Dubois, as the woman of Niagara, remembers abolitionist John Brown at Harpers Ferry and how he died for her freedom.

The play, which is about one hour long, is open admission, with auditorium seats available on a first-come, first-served basis.

On Thursday, February 8, at noon, Donzaleigh will present a lecture about her book, Partners to History, which was written when Donzaleigh felt called to tell the story of Ralph David and Martin Luther King Jr. in the ballroom at the Olpin Union Building at the University of Utah main campus (200 South Central Campus Drive).” It is a personal account of the Civil Rights Movement and faith, much of it told in the words of Ralph David and Martin Luther King Jr., along with poignant photographs. Ralph David Abernathy and Martin Luther King Jr. were inseparable and together helped to establish what would become the modern American Civil Rights Movement. They preached, marched, and were frequently jailed together. Donzaleigh has written Partners to History as a testament to the courage, strength, and endurance of these men who stirred a nation with their moral fortitude. She also pays tribute to the thousands of unsung heroes-the other partners to this history-who were foot soldiers in the endless struggle for freedom, justice, and equality. This document captures in words and pictures how the dream of two visionaries changed the course of American history and inspired the world.

An accomplished actress, Donzaleigh Abernathy is known to audiences for her leading role as Sara on the Lifetime TV series, Any Day Now and starring as Martha, the slave in Warner Bros. Gods and Generals. In 2003, Abernathy published her first book, PARTNERS TO HISTORY: Martin Luther King, Ralph David Abernathy and the Civil Rights Movement. The book was nominated as the Best Book of 2004 for Young Adults by the American Library Association.

Donzaleigh, (don-za-lay) who prefers to be called by her first name, has starred in several award winning and critically acclaimed television movies. In addition to being an actress, Donzaleigh is a member of the New Visions Foundation Board of Trustees, where she was a founding member of New Roads Schools, K-12 in Santa Monica, California. As a humanitarian, she has served as a spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control-AIDS Awareness Program, Co-Chairman of the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra’s Martin Luther King Commemorative Concert, and as an environmentalist. Her life is profiled in the books Fearless Women and No Mountain High Enough. She lives in California.

Dar Dixon is a film, television, and theater actor. He stars in the newly released independent movie, Trust Me, and in the upcoming Genesis Code by director Joe Zito. He has also guest-starred in numerous television shows including CSI: NY, CSI: Miami, House, and NCIS. Some of Dar’s theater roles include JOHN BROWN and the WOMEN OF NIAGARA for the Harper’s Ferry National Park Services Niagara Movement Centennial, Don De Lillo’s critically acclaimed THE DAY ROOM, Noel Coward’s BLITHE SPIRIT, and Bill Svanoe’s acclaimed THE BARGAIN TABLE in Santa Fe where Dar received rave reviews.

An advocate for human rights, Dar co-chairs the award committee for the 2007 Martin Luther King Commemorative Concert as performed by the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra.

Academic Outreach and Continuing Education at the University of Utah enriches the lives of people of all ages in the greater community and beyond by providing extraordinary learning opportunities from the University of Utah. The division encompasses nine programs: Academic Non-Credit, Lifelong Learning, Exam/Test Preparation, Professional Education, Technology Education, Youth Education, Distance Education, the Osher Institute for Lifelong Learning and the English Language Institute.