Mercedes Ellington to Visit Campus During Celebration of Black History Month

The president of the Duke Ellington Center for the Arts will lead a series of dance and musical performances in Smith Auditorium.

Mercedes Ellington, president of the Duke Ellington Center for the Arts, will speak about her grandfather’s legacy and lead a celebration of African-American music and dance on Wednesday, Feb. 17 at noon in Smith Auditorium. Presented by the Manhattan College Multicultural Center, Diversity Committee and Student Activities Office, the event is one of several on-campus celebrations of Black History Month.

Ellington will be joined by Alex Cowings, an emerging performer who is the son of famed jazz musician Marion Cowings. Alex, a tap dancer born in the U.S. Virgin Islands who has appeared in several venues in New York City and around the country, will perform for the audience in Smith Auditorium.

Frank Owens, who has been a part of past Black History Month events at Manhattan College, will also accompany the event on piano. The original musical director of The David Letterman Show, Owens has performed alongside Johnny Mathis, Petula Clark and Gregory Hines, among others. Owens was associate conductor and music arranger for The Wiz, starring Michael Jackson, and was the musical director of Showtime at the Apollo.

A week after the Feb. 17 event, the College will host its third annual Open Mic Night on Thursday, Feb. 25 in Café 1853 in Thomas Hall. Featuring performances by Manhattan College students, past events have hosted an inclusive group of poets, comedians and spoken word artists.

On Saturday, Feb. 27, the College hosts Black Art Matters in Café 1853, beginning at 7 p.m. A showcase of African-American artists in the modern era, the event includes a display of paintings and photos, the screening of a short film and performances from contributors to A Literary Assault on the American Mind: An Anthology about the American Experience, the latest collection produced by Silent Noise Publishing.

By Pete McHugh