Fishburne To Receive Honors at Cultural Rhythms

Acclaimed actor and humanitarian chosen as the Harvard Foundation's Artist of the Year

Artist of the Year
Associated Press

Tony and Emmy Award-winning actor Laurence Fishburne will take the stage later this month as the 2007 Artist of the Year during the 22nd annual Cultural Rhythms festival, the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations announced Friday afternoon.

Fishburne, who is also being recognized for his work as an activist and humanitarian, will be presented with a medal during the opening show of Cultural Rhythms, currently scheduled for Feb. 24. Students will also have an opportunity to interact with the artist during a reception and luncheon in Kirkland House earlier in the day.

Dozens of student group leaders and members gathered to celebrate the formal announcement Friday afternoon in the Harvard Foundation’s headquarters in the basement of Thayer Hall.

“It was a very special opportunity for us. He is a great guest. He is most deserving,” Director of the Harvard Foundation Dr. S. Allen Counter said in a conference call during the gathering.

Counter, who was away on University business at the time, added that the Foundation has tried to invite Fishburne in the past, but “year after year” he was not available.

“Even this time, he is leaving his filming to come to Harvard for us,” he said.

Christina Diaz, administrative director of the Foundation, said the organization was glad to secure an artist with a longstanding and varied career, who also has “really committed a portion of his life to helping children and helping those in need.”

Fishburne is currently chairman of the United States Fund for UNICEF’s campaign against HIV/AIDS and has traveled to Africa numerous times to visit support centers and spread awareness about the illness among local youth.

Simi Bhat ’08, one of this year’s co-directors of Cultural Rhythms, said she believes that Fishburne’s contributions in the artistic and humanitarian fields will make him a “great” guest.

“I think it’s really exciting for all the interns, all the performers, and the audience,” Bhat said.

In February 2006, actress Salma Hayek was honored as Artist of the Year—the Foundation’s most prestigious award.

The annual Cultural Rhythms celebration features a showcase of over 30 campus performance groups in Sanders Theatre and includes an international food festival. This year, proceeds from the event will benefit the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

—Staff writer Doris A. Hernandez can be reached at dahernan@fas.harvard.edu.