April 14, 2014
Khalil Gibran Muhammad, left, director of The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a research unit of The New York Public Library, presents Walter Dean Myers ’84 with the 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award.
(WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – April 15, 2014) SUNY Empire State College alumnus Walter Dean Myers ’84, a critically acclaimed New York Times best-selling author of more than 100 books for children and young adults, will speak from 7-9 p.m., Wednesday, April 30, at 200 North Central Ave., Hartsdale, NY.
Urban teenagers, and young, economically disadvantaged African-Americans, in particular, are frequent subjects of his books. Myers also writes poetry and nonfiction.
Recently the Times published related opinion pieces, “Where Are the People of Color in Children’s Book?”, by Myers, and “The Apartheid of Children’s Literature,” by his son and collaborator, Christopher Myers.
The genesis for these items was a study by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin, which found that of the 3,200 books published in 2013 only 93 were by or about black people.
Upon receiving the college’s 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award, Myers said, “Empire State College was a major influence in my life. Although I enrolled with an offhand interest in getting a degree, I was introduced to the role of prisons and their effect on young people, an interest I have written about extensively.”
Myers’ appearance is the second in the college’s Ambassadors for Community Engagement Lecture Series. The lectures are free and open to the public.
Walter Dean Myers was born in Martinsburg, W. Va. in 1937, and grew up in Harlem, N.Y., in the ‘40s. After his mother died when he was a toddler, his father gave him to Harlem residents Herbert and Florence Dean to raise.
Although a prodigious reader even as a child, he dropped out of high school and joined the army on his 17th birthday. Later, while working on a construction job, he began writing for magazines at night.
A winning contest entry with the Council on Interracial Books for Children became his first book, “Where Does the Day Go?”
Myers’ books include “Sunrise Over Fallujah,” “Fallen Angels,” “Monster,” “Somewhere in the Darkness,” “Slam!”, “Jazz,” “Harlem” and “Amiri and Odette: A Love Story,” a modern retelling of “Swan Lake.
He has received two Newbery Awards and five Coretta Scott King Awards. Myers also was the inaugural recipient of the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement and he won the first Michael L. Printz Award. Myers was the 1994 recipient of the American Library Association’s Margaret A. Edwards Award honoring an author for a "significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature."
Myers was named National Ambassador for Young People's Literature in 2012. A program sponsored by the Library of Congress and the Children’s Book Council, candidates are selected based on their contribution to young people’s literature and their ability to relate to children.
He graduated from the college in 1984 with a B.A. in cultural studies.
Empire State College, the nontraditional, open college of the SUNY system, educates more than 20,000 students worldwide at eight international sites, more than 35 locations in the state of New York, online, as well as face to face and through a blend of both, at the associate, bachelor’s and master’s levels.
The average age of an undergraduate student at the college is 35 and graduate students average age 40.
Most Empire State College students are working adults. Many are raising families and meeting civic commitments in the communities where they live, while studying part time.
In addition to awarding credit for prior college-level learning, the college pairs each undergraduate student with a faculty mentor who supports that student throughout his or her college career.
Working with their mentors, students design an individual degree program and engage in guided independent study and course work onsite, online or through a combination of both, which provides the flexibility for students to choose where, when and how to learn.
Students have the opportunity to enroll five times during the year.
The college’s 70,000 alumni are active in their communities as entrepreneurs, politicians, business professionals, artists, nonprofit agency employees, teachers, veterans and active military, union members and more.
The college was first established in 1971 by the Board of Trustees with the encouragement of the late Ernest L. Boyer, chancellor of the SUNY system from 1970 to 1977.
Boyer also served as United States commissioner of education during the administration of President Jimmy Carter and then as president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
More information about the college is available at www.esc.edu.
Media contact: David Henahan, director of communications
518-587-2100, ext. 2918
518-321-7038 (after hours and on weekends)
Event contact: Christine Leake, event coordinator
845-517-1294, ext. 3421
David M. Henahan, Director of Communications 518-587-2100, ext. 2918 David.Henahan@esc.edu
518-321-7038(after 5 p.m. and weekends)