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NDNU's Black Student Union and One East Palo Alto Team Together for Musical Benefit

Belmont, CA, Feburary 12, 2009 — The internationally-acclaimed “Core Ensemble” will celebrate the life and times of four inspiring African American women, whose struggles helped pave the way for future generations, with the multi-cultural feminist performance  “Ain’t I a Woman!,” February 21 at 7 p.m.

NDNU’s Black Student Union and One East Palo Alto will sponsor the musical theatre presentation featuring actress Shinnerrie Jackson. The event will serve as an inaugural fundraiser that will provide scholarships for NDNU’s African American students and East Palo Alto youth and young adults. The benefit will be held at the NDNU Theatre located on the University campus in Belmont.

The production highlights the journeys of renowned novelist and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston, ex-slave and fiery abolitionist Sojourner Truth, exuberant folk artist Clementine Hunter and fervent civil rights worker Fannie Lou Hamer. The musical score is drawn from the heartfelt spirituals and blues of the Deep South, the urban vitality of the Jazz Age and contemporary concert music by noted African Americans.

“This joyful exploration of the trials and triumphs of these passionate, accomplished women is one of a series of multicultural, feminist performance pieces produced by the Core Ensemble over the past ten years,” said Dr. Raymond Jones, NDNU’s Vice President of Campus Life.”We are very fortunate to have them as part of our inaugural fundraiser.

“The benefit will make a tremendous financial difference to NDNU’s black students from East Palo Alto, and will help to support the summer employment of youth living in East Palo Alto, as well,” he added.”The collaboration between NDNU and One East Palo Alto is tremendously exciting with great potential.”

NDNU’s Black Student Union promotes and provides culturally-diverse programs and activities as well as opportunities for community service. One East Palo Alto is a youth-focused non-profit that develops resident leaders, brokers resources and services, and builds individual and organizational capacity and advocates for change in East Palo Alto. Their Sponsored Employment Program is a crime prevention initiative led by OEPA, Job Train and El Concilio of San Mateo County that provides summer jobs and one-on-one mentoring relationships for EPA youth and young adults (ages 14-24) with multiple challenges to employment.

The Core Ensemble, consisting of cellist Katie Schlaikjer, pianist Hugh Hinton and percussionist Michael Parola, has toured Australia, England, Russia, Ukraine, the Caribbean and every region of the United States. The Ensemble receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts, State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, A.D. Henderson Foundation, Florida Humanities Council, Aaron Copland Fund for Music and Palm Beach County Cultural Council.

A versatile performer, Jackson has appeared in regional and collegiate theatre in such productions as Guys and Dolls, A Christmas Carol, The Tempest, Much Ado About Nothing, King Lear, All My Sons, The Glass Menagerie, and Raisin in the Sun. Jackson holds an M.F.A. in Acting from the University of Tennessee and a B.M. in Vocal Performance from Oberlin Conservatory. She is also a member of the Actor’s Equity Association.

Tickets for NDNU’s “Ain’t I a Woman!” fundraiser cost $25 general admission, $20 for students and seniors, and group rates are available. For advance tickets or for more information to purchase at the door, call (650) 508-3514.