Cape Cod NAACP honors UMass Dartmouth Professor Mwalim
Annual Unsung Heroes Award ceremony recognizes Mashpee Artist & Arts Educator
For the 2011 "Unsung Heroes" Recognition Awards Luncheon, the Cape Cod Branch of the NAACP has selected Mwalim (Morgan James Peters) as their Educator of the Year.
Mwalim is a tenured Associate Professor of English and African/ African American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where his specialties include dramatic writing; spoken-word; Black theater & folklore; and digital media production.
Mwalim along with college bound, graduating high school students will be honored at the Cape Cod Branch of the NAACPs Annual Event on Sunday, May 15, 2011 at 2:00pm at the Heritage House Hotel, 259 Main Street, Hyannis, MA. For more tickets and more information, contact Joe DaLuz at 508-775-5661 or NAACP President Frank Rhodes at 508-540-6266.
Sharply contradicting the adage "Those who can't teach," Mwalim's twenty plus-year career as an artist and educator has been a rich blend of artistic achievements and making the classroom into a laboratory/ workshop for an up and coming generation of aspiring artists. An internationally recognized and multi-award-winning performing artist, writer, and digital media artist, Mwalim's work and accolades span the mediums of theater, music, literature, cinema as well as scholarly articles and essays in ethnographic musicology and folklore. As a teacher, Mwalim has taught students from kindergarten to graduate school how to find their creative voices. A resident of Mashpee and New Bedford, he is a member of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, where he is a founding member of the tribe's education committee and served as the committee's chair from 2006 to 2009.
He was introduced to teaching as a student at Boston University where he was involved in a mentoring program where he worked with middle school students in Roxbury; he also joined New African Company's apprenticeship program, where he studied various aspects of theater arts and arts education under the late James Spruill and the late Lynda Patton. As a community educator and teaching artist, Mwalim taught theater and creative writing through community and after-school programs throughout New England. Under the auspices of the Martin Luther King Jr. Society and the Circle of Caring, he introduced a youth theater program to young people from Mashpee, Falmouth and Barnstable, which eventually became the Mashpee Youth Theater program as a part of the Oversoul Theatre Collective, from 1995 - 2001. As a part of the Lincoln Center Director's Lab, Mwalim temporarily moved to New York in 2000, working in professional theater as a playwright and director; as a nightclub house band director, and film and video editor. He also held several artist residencies at theaters and arts institutions, teaching courses and workshops in spoken-word and dramatic writing to adults and poetry and short story writing in the public schools. After being offered a faculty position at UMass Dartmouth, he returned to Massachusetts in 2003.
At the university he is also the advisor to several student organizations including the newly formed Living Playwright's Society, and the Black Student Union. Nicknamed "Daphunkeeprofessor" for his unorthodox, yet intellectually intensive teaching style, Mwalim is a part of the university's Service Learning Fellows program, dedicated to infusing community interaction and involvement into the academic experience. As a part of his fellowship, he launched the first annual Griot's Corner Drama Festival, whereby students in dramatic literature, playwriting, spoken-word, and dramatic production courses make their final presentations to the general public as opposed to just within the classroom. Over the years, many of Mwalim's student have gone on to successfully pursue careers in the arts, education, and media production including educator & choreographer, Kaili Turner, Film and television actor, Tyrone Burton, Filmmaker & Journalist Chris Hassan and singer/ songwriter Phil Ramos. He is referred to in Wikipedia as a "subcultural icon."
Still active as a performing artist, Mwalim's 2010 CD "The Liberation Sessions" and it's underground hit single "DEM BIG GIRLS" earned Mwalim the 2010 Best Male Jazz Artist awards from the New England Urban Music Awards as well as multiple nominations for the 2010 Native American Music Awards. He is currently a finalist nominee in the 2011 New England Urban Music Awards. Mwalim's upcoming CD "The Abyss: A Deep Soul Journey" is due for release this summer. He is the author of A MIXED MEDICINE BAG (Talking Drum Press, 2007). A Past Master of Union Lodge #4 in New Bedford, Mwalim is the Assistant Grand Historian of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.
Mwalim is a blogger on CapeCodTODAY here.