April 18, 2016
Doors open at 7:30 PM
Before his sudden, shocking, five-year-long imprisonment by Castro's Cuba, Alan Gross spent more than 25 years traveling the globe to administer civilian foreign aid and promote democracy on behalf of private industry, non-government organizations, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Gross fought poverty and oppression in more than 50 countries in the Middle East... ,Europe, Asia and Africa.
In 2009, Gross was abruptly arrested by Cuban officials, who falsely accused him of working for American intelligence services. He was in fact working on a humanitarian project to improve wireless access for small communities across Cuba, with a special emphasis on helping Cuba’s small Jewish community. In March 2011, Gross was wrongfully convicted for “acts against the territorial integrity of the state," and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
During his captivity in Cuba, Gross spent 23 hours a day confined to a small jail cell, almost completely isolated from the outside world. His physical health and emotional well-being deteriorated over five long years, as his hopes that he would ever return home alive were challenged.
Gross’s wife, Judy—along with Jewish, Christian and Moslem humanitarian groups worldwide—fought tirelessly for Gross’s freedom. After being unjustly imprisoned for 1,841 days, the Cuban government released Alan Gross on humanitarian grounds on December 17, 2014.
April 5, 2016
Doors open at 7:30 PM
Tickets are available for pickup in MSC 2306 starting March 29th at 9am.
Brandon Stanton graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in History. He traded bonds in Chicago for three years, before losing his job and moving to New York. In November of 2010, he started the photography blog Humans of New York. Today, HONY is followed... by nearly fourteen million people, and is the fastest growing Arts and Humanities page on Facebook.
Stanton began Humans of New York in hopes of creating an exhaustive catalogue of New York City’s inhabitants, including photographs of 10,000 New Yorkers and plotting their locations on a map. Brandon worked for several months with this goal in mind and during this process; HONY began to take on a much different character. Brandon began collecting quotes and short stories from the people he met, and incorporated these snippets alongside the photographs. Taken together, these portraits and captions became the subject of a vibrant blog. HONY now provides a worldwide audience with daily glimpses into the lives of strangers in New York City, and in 2013 a compilation of these stories and pictures became a #1 New York Times bestselling book. Brandon's third book, HONY: Stories, was released in October 2015.
March 10, 2016
Doors open at 7:30 PM
One of the world’s greatest players of all time, Abby is the #1 all-time leading scorer in international soccer history with 184 career goals. Long known as one of the most intense competitors in U.S. history whose years of clutch goal scoring made her a fan favorite. She led the USA in scoring in the 2008 and 2011 Women’s World Cup tournaments, and... the 2004 and 2012 Olympics (She missed Beijing 2008 due to a broken leg).
Abby is the leading voice for women’s sports as well as for her generation of female soccer players and athletes. An ambassador for Right to Play and USAID among other organizations, she will continue to inspire others for years to come. Abby is the youngest of 7 children and claims she got her “toughness” from her 4 older brothers.
MICHAEL RENDER, A.K.A "KILLER MIKE"
January 20, 2016
Doors open at 7:30 PM
MSC OVAL THEATRE
Michael Render, nicknamed Killer Mike for “killing the microphone” is known as a socially conscious and politically engaged rapper. He made his music debut on OutKast's 2000 album Stankonia, and later appeared on OutKast’s Grammy-winning song The Whole World. In 2013, Killer Mike and rapper-producer El-P formed Run the Jewels and released their self-titled debut... via Fool's Gold Records. "Run the Jewels 2" was released in Oct. 2014 to rave reviews with Rolling Stone naming it Best Rap Album of 2014.
Render’s noted activism on issues such as social equality and systemic racism has led to interviews on numerous media platforms and attendance of the 2015 White House Correspondents Dinner. In a time when conversations about race and equity are prevalent on college campuses across the nation, ULS and the Office of Multicultural Affairs (the coordinator of MLK Commemorative Week), were committed to bringing a speaker offering a critical and conscious perspective on social issues affecting students. Render’s entertainment value coupled with his commitment to building community though critical dialogue made him an excellent fit to address the USF community as the university honored the legacy of Dr. King, Jr.
"Orange is the New Black" Actress Laverne Cox Cancels Lecture at USF
Due to the taping schedule for Fox’s Rocky Horror Picture Show, actress Laverne Cox has cancelled her appearance at the University of South Florida on March 21, 2016. The student-run University Lecture Series is currently exploring other options for the March lecture.
MONday, MARCH 21, 2016
Doors open at 7:30 PM
Laverne Cox is an Emmy-nominated actress who can be seen in the Netflix original series “Orange is The New Black” where she plays the ground breaking role of Sophia Burset. The critically acclaimed show returns for its third season on Netflix June 12th. Laverne is the first trans woman of color to have a leading role on a mainstream scripted television show. ... Laverne is expanding her presence on the small screen with the CBS pilot “Doubt,” a legal drama from “Grey’s Anatomy” producers Joan Rater and Tony Phelan. She will play ‘Cameron Wirth’, a trans Ivy League-educated lawyer who’s both competitive and compassionate. On the silver screen, Laverne can next be seen as ‘Deathy,’ a supporting role in the Lily Tomlin film "Grandma" from acclaimed writer and director Paul Weitz. The film premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival where it was acquired by Sony Picture Classics and will show at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival.
Laverne’s work as an actress and advocate landed her on the cover of TIME Magazine as well as an Emmy nomination for “Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series.” Laverne continues to break boundaries and make history with accolades including a SAG Award for “Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series,” a Critic’s Choice nomination for “Best Supporting Actress,” and a NAACP Image Awards nomination for “Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.”
This past year, Laverne has had stand out appearances on several TV shows including; the hit Fox comedy “The Mindy Project,” Bravo’s “Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce” and MTV’s “Faking It.” She also appeared as a guest judge on “Project Runway All Stars” and hosted #GoBold brought to you by Revlon, an empowering web series that celebrates bold, provocative women setting out to accomplish their goals. Her documentary “Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word” aired on MTV & Logo to impressive ratings. The hour-long documentary explored the lives seven transgender youth from across the country and their determination to lead their lives as the people they are meant to be. Laverne was the host and executive producer of the ground breaking documentary which was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award.
Laverne is also producing another documentary titled "Free CeCe" in order to heighten visibility and awareness surrounding CeCe McDonald, a transgender woman who was controversially sentenced to 41 months in prison for second degree manslaughter after allegedly defending herself against a racist and transphobic attack. The documentary will focus on McDonald's case, her experiences while incarcerated in a men's prison and the larger implications of her case for the transgender community.
In 2013 Laverne won Best Supporting Actress at the Massachusetts Independent Film Festival for her work in the critically acclaimed film “Musical Chairs” directed by Susan Seidelman (Desperately Seeking Susan). Laverne’s other acting credits include “Law and Order,” “Law and Order: SVU,” “Bored to Death,” and the independent films “Carla” and “The Exhibitionists.”
Laverne is the first trans woman of color to produce and star in her own television show, VH1’s “TRANSForm Me” which was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award. Laverne is also the first trans woman of color to appear on an American reality television program, VH1’s “I Wanna Work for Diddy” for which she accepted the GLAAD media award for “Outstanding Reality Program.” She also received The Stephen F. Kolzak Award at the 2014 GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles.
In addition to her acting, Laverne is a renowned speaker and has taken her empowering message of moving beyond gender expectations to live more authentically all over the country. Her work as an advocate landed her a coveted spot as one of Glamour magazine’s 2014 Women of the Year. She is the recipient of the Dorian Rising Star Award for her work in “Orange is the New Black,” the Courage Award from the Anti-Violence Project, The Community Leader Award from the LGBT Center of New York City, received the Reader's Choice Award from "Out" Magazine, was named one of The Grio's 100 Most Influential African Americans, was named one of the Top 50 Trans Icons by the Huffington Post, one of Out magazine’s Out 100, made the Ebony Power 100 and was ranked number 5 on the 2014 Root 100 list.