2018 Burlington Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Remembrance

Sunday, January 14, 2018, 3:00pm
First Unitarian Universalist Society, 152 Pearl Street

Keynote Speaker: Louis Gossett Jr.

FREE, tickets available at Fletcher Free Library, City Market and Peace & Justice Center

Info: 802-657-4219

About Louis Gossett Jr

Born May 27, 1936 in Brooklyn, NY, Lou has a flair for projecting quiet authority and has scored well personally in a string of diverse and occasionally challenging roles.

The aspiring actor caught a break at his first Broadway audition for Take A Giant Step, where, beating out 400 other candidates, the then 16-year-old landed the lead.

His acting career soon flourished and his work in the stage and film versions of the groundbreaking drama about African-American family life in Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun proved a watershed. This led to numerous appearances on network series in the 1960s and 70s culminating in 1977, when he picked up an Emmy for his eloquent portrayal of Fiddler in the landmark ABC miniseries Roots.

Meanwhile, his big screen reputation grew with critically acclaimed work in such comedies as The LandlordThe Skin Game with James Garner, Travels with My Aunt and the film adaptation of the Tony Award-winning drama The River Niger. A riveting performance as a drug-dealing cutthroat stalking Nick Nolte and Jacqueline Bisset in The Deep catapulted him to wider popularity, but the tough by-the-book drill sergeant in the 1982 An Officer and a Gentleman won him a Best Supporting Oscar that consolidated his place in the Hollywood hierarchy.

Following his Oscar, he made numerous big screen and television appearances, being singled out for his work as Egyptian president Anwar Sadat in Sadat, the sci-fi adventure Enemy Mine where his lizard-like makeup won kudos, and in the action adventure series Iron Eagle which introduced him to a whole new generation of moviegoers.

Still going strong, Lou’s trendsetting bald head and imposing six-foot-four physique served him well in Diggstown where he played a down-and-out boxer, as well as a heroic headmaster in Toy Soldiers.

Lou’s well thought out and nuanced performances also managed to give credibility to socially themed projects such as To Dance with Olivia, and the critically acclaimed Jasper, Texas.

The recipient of every known acting accolade, including multiple Golden Globes, Emmys, and People’s Choice Awards, Lou’s performance has connected him with his fans on a global scale. Organizations such as the NAACP, CARE, and the United States Armed Forces have used his likeness to add validity and integrity to their causes.

Lou has also developed the Eracism Foundation, a nonprofit organization aimed at creating entertainment that helps bring awareness and education to issues such as racism, ignorance, and societal apathy.


Monday Civil Rights Panel Discussion

Monday, January 15, 12:00pm
Fletcher Free Library
Free, no tickets required

Facilitator: Prof Susan Comerford

Panelists will include:

  • TJ Donovan, Attorney General
  • Karen Richards, Vermont Human Rights Commission
  • Tristram Coffin, former US Attorney for the District of Vermont
  • Sherwood Smith, UVM
  • Henri Sparks, Burlington High School


This event is made possible through sponsorship from the City of Burlington, United Way of Northwest Vermont, KeyBank, Champlain Housing Trust, People’s United Bank, Church Street Marketplace, First Unitarian Universalist Society, Mace Engravers, Courtyard Marriott, City Market, Howard Center, Ben and Jerry’s, Smith Buckley Architects, C2 Competitive Computing, VIP Limousine and Car Service, Spruce Mortgage