North Central College - Naperville, IL

Filmmaker Spike Lee to speak during Martin Luther King Week

Print Email Share

Contact: Ted Slowik, director of PR and media relations, 630-637-5307,

NAPERVILLE, Ill. (Jan. 4, 2011)—In one of the first major public events during its Sesquicentennial year, North Central College presents filmmaker Spike Lee as the keynote speaker during its 2011 Martin Luther King Week celebration.

"An Evening with Spike Lee" begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 18, in Wentz Concert Hall at the Fine Arts Center, 171 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville. Tickets for the general public are $20; call the North Central College Box Office at 630-637-SHOW (7469) or visit

North Central College's Martin Luther King Week, Jan. 15-22, is an annual celebration of the College's history of building bridges among cultures. Last year's event featured keynote speaker Cornel West on the 50th anniversary of Dr. King's 1960 appearance in the College's Pfeiffer Hall. This year's celebration includes a musical tribute to Dr. King by the Chicago Sinfonietta on Jan. 15 and the College's 23rd annual Gospel Extravaganza on Jan. 22.

Lee is a producer, director and actor who was born Shelton Jackson Lee on March 20, 1957, in Atlanta Ga. Growing up in a relatively well-off African-American family, he was making amateur films by age 20. His first student film, "Last Hustle in Brooklyn," was completed when he was an undergraduate at Morehouse College. He went on to graduate from the New York University Film School in 1982.

Spike LeeLee became a director of promise with his first feature film, "She's Gotta Have It," in 1986. No stranger to controversy for certain provocative elements in both his films and public statements, Lee often takes a critical look at race relations, political issues and urban crime and violence. His next film, "Do the Right Thing," was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay in 1989.

Subsequent films, including "Malcolm X," "Mo' Better Blues," "Summer of Sam" and "She Hate Me" continued to explore social and political issues. "4 Little Girls," a piece about the 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary in 1997.

In 2006, Lee directed and produced a four-hour documentary for television, "When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts," about life in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He also did well at the box office that year with the crime caper "Inside Man," starring Clive Owen, Jodie Foster and Denzel Washington.

Lee has also had success in directing television commercials, most famously opposite Michael Jordan in Nike's Air Jordan campaign. Other commercial clients include Converse, Taco Bell and Ben & Jerry's. His production company, 40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks, is located in his childhood neighborhood of Fort Green in Brooklyn, N.Y.

His most recent feature film release, "Miracle at St. Anna" (2008), tells the story of four African-American soldiers trapped in an Italian village during World War II.

Martin Luther King Week events at North Central College are coordinated by the College's Office of Multicultural Affairs. For more information contact Dorothy Pleas, director of multicultural affairs, at 630-637-5156 or at

The Chicago Sinfonietta performs its musical tribute to King at 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 15, in Wentz Concert Hall at the Fine Arts Center, 171 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville. Titled "Concert III: A Dream Unfolds," the celebration will feature multiple guest artists and a set of five works, performed by an orchestra known for its diversity and innovative programs. Tickets are $60 and $50.

North Central's 23rd annual Gospel Extravaganza, featuring solo artists and local and national gospel choirs, begins at 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 22, in the College's Pfeiffer Hall, 310 E. Benton Ave. Tickets are $15/adults, $8/students and senior citizens.

Tickets for Spike Lee, the Chicago Sinfonietta and the Gospel Extravaganza are available by calling the North Central College Box Office at 630-637-SHOW (7469) or visiting
Martin Luther King Week events are among many ongoing programs hosted at North Central College to enrich and broaden the academic and cultural outlook for the College and community. For a comprehensive schedule of art exhibits, musical performances, lectures and theatrical productions, visit or call the box office at 630-637-SHOW (7469).
Martin Luther King Week events at North Central College are sponsored by Nicor and Sara Lee.

North Central College is planning numerous events throughout 2011 to commemorate its Sesquicentennial, culminating with a major celebration on Nov. 11—the 150th anniversary of the first day of classes.

Founded in 1861, North Central College is an independent, comprehensive college of the liberal arts and sciences that offers more than 55 undergraduate majors and graduate programming in six areas. Located in the Historic District of Naperville, Illinois—rated by Money magazine as among the nation's "Best Places to Live"—North Central College is just 30 minutes from Chicago's Loop. With more than 2,900 undergraduate and graduate students, North Central College is committed to academic excellence, a climate that emphasizes leadership, ethics, values and service, a curriculum that balances job-related knowledge with a liberal arts foundation and a caring environment with small classes.