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New York Times columnist to keynote MLK observance

Social and political commentator Charles M. Blow to speak at Northwestern Jan. 22

Charles M. Blow
Charles M. Blow

EVANSTON - Charles M. Blow, media expert, social and political commentator, educator and author, will be the keynote speaker at Northwestern University’s commemoration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blow will speak on both the Chicago and Evanston campuses.

Blow will deliver the keynote address at the University-wide MLK commemoration at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 22, at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive in Evanston. The annual program will include music and performances from Northwestern student groups.

Blow’s Chicago campus talk will take place at noon on Monday, Jan. 22, at Thorne Auditorium, 375 E. Chicago Ave., during a program sponsored by Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine and Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.

Born and raised in Louisiana, Blow is an Op-Ed columnist at the New York Times. His columns tackle hot-button issues such as social justice, racial equality, presidential politics, police violence, gun control and the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Blow also is a CNN commentator and was a Presidential Visiting Professor at Yale, where he taught a seminar on media and politics.

He is author of the New York Times bestselling memoir “Fire Shut Up in My Bones,” which won a Lambda Literary Award and the Sperber Prize and made multiple prominent lists of best books published in 2014.

Blow joined the New York Times in 1994 as a graphics editor and quickly became the paper’s graphics director, garnering several national and international awards for information graphics. He also served as design director for news before leaving in 2006 to become the art director of National Geographic Magazine. Before going to the Times, he worked at The Detroit News.

He graduated magna cum laude from Grambling State University in Louisiana with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and holds an honorary doctorate from Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston. He lives in Brooklyn and has three children.

“‘We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal,’ are words found in the Declaration of Independence and were also spoken by Martin Luther King Jr,” said MLK Commemoration Committee co-chair Kathleen Nganga.

“They reveal a commitment to truth and to social justice. Therefore, in the spirit of these words, we selected Charles Blow because of his commitment to social justice, journalism and truth finding.”

Northwestern MLK observance events include a Jan. 15, 7 p.m. candlelight vigil at Alice Millar Chapel hosted by Alpha Mu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. The

Day of Service will take place on Jan. 15, with additional arts and education events sponsored by Leadership Development and Community Engagement and Vertigo Productions.

Northwestern’s Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration events are free and open to the public. More information about Northwestern’s MLK events is available online.

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