Greater Scranton Martin Luther King Commission to host celebration, dinner

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SCRANTON — The Greater Scranton Martin Luther King Commission (GSMLKC) will hold its annual celebration and community awards dinner at The University of Scranton Sunday, Jan. 14.

The theme of this year’s event, which will begin at 2:30 p.m. in the McIlhenny Ballroom of the DeNaples Center, is a “higher destiny” and focuses on raising awareness of the impact media portrayal has on the public’s beliefs about race, people, relationships and culture. Bayeté Ross Smith, a photographer, multi-media artist, filmmaker and educator from New York City, and Andy Mehalshick, an investigative reporter for WBRE Eyewitness News, Wilkes-Barre, will speak at the dinner.

The 2018 GSMLKC dinner theme is inspired by a quote from Dr. King: “Let us be those creative dissenters who will call our nation to a higher destiny. To a new plateau of compassion, to a more noble expression of humanness.”

A faculty member at the International Center of Photography and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Smith is a member of TED Residency class three and an inaugural POV New York Times embedded media maker. He is represented by beta pictoris gallery/Maus Contemporary. He also serves as the associate program director for the Kings Against Violence Initiative, a hospital-and school-based violence prevention organization in New York that partners with Kings County Hospital.

An internationally exhibited artist, Smith has had his wor shown in the collections of The Smithsonian Institution, the Oakland Museum of California, the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and The Brooklyn Museum. His collaborative projects “Along The Way” and “Question Bridge: Black Males” were shown at the 2008 and 2012 Sundance Film Festival, respectively.

Smith’s awards include an International Center of Photography Infinity Award for New Media, a TED Residency, a FSP/Jerome Fellowship, an Embedded Media Maker selection supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and fellowships and residencies at the McColl Center for Art and Innovation, the Kala Institute, and the Laundromat Project.

Smith has been involved in a variety of community and public art projects with organizations such as the Jerome Foundation, BRIC Arts Media, The Amistad Center and The Laundromat Project, among others. His work has also been published in numerous books and magazines.

An award-winning journalist, Mehalshick is the lead member of the Eyewitness News I-Team. After graduating from Wilkes University, he began his career as a reporter at the Hazleton-area radio station WQEQ-EXPX in 1982, where he worked his way up to the news director position, while also writing for an area newspaper. He began working for WBRE in 1985 and has performed duties in virtually all positions in the newsroom, including anchor, producer and as an investigative reporter.

During his career, Mehalshick has received Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasting awards and an Emmy Nomination for his coverage of the Penn State child sex scandal.

Active in the local community, Mehalshick has taken part in numerous fundraising events, including serving as host for the American Cancer Society and Help Hand Telethons since 1985. One of his missions is to protect children and he has presented his award-winning “Stranger Danger Program” to thousands of children since 1994.

Tickets for this event are $25 and can be reserved at www.scranton.edu/equity-diversity/mlkcommission.shtml, or by contacting Jennifer Pennington at the university’s Office of Equity and Diversity by email at jennifer.pennington@scranton.edu or by phone at 570-941-6645.

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