Now is the time to heed the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s call for racial unity, actress Cicely Tyson told an Augusta audience Friday.
Ms. Tyson, best known for her portrayal of a slave who ages from 19 to 110 in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and her role in the 1999 HBO film A Lesson Before Dying, was the keynote speaker at Paine College's Founders' Day Program.
"Will we be extremists of hate or extremists of love, of the preservation of injustice or the cause of justice?" Ms. Tyson asked the standing-room-only crowd. "We were faced with these questions as terrorists struck our country. America has become a changed nation."
The program, traditionally held on the birthday of George William Walker, a former president at the college, was part of the college's homecoming week festivities.
Ms. Tyson challenged the audience to find a peaceful resolution to conflicts.
"We must build bridges and find a meeting place on common ground," she said. "We would be well served to heed (Dr. King's) example."
After her address, Dr. Randolph King, of Nassau, Bahamas, announced he would establish a new four-year scholarship in Ms. Tyson's name.
Sophomore Shawn Haggray said students should heed Ms. Tyson's example.
"I hope the students will use it in their daily lives," she said.
Norma G. Bussey, a 1962 Paine graduate, agreed.
"I think it was beautiful," she said. "It was a real inspiration as to where we should be in our lives."
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