Duke in Depth

From February 20-22, 2015, alumni and their families and friends are invited to join the Duke Alumni Association for an in-depth look at the music of Motown and its influence on the Civil Rights Movement. In a series of events including lectures, panel discussions, and presentations, participants will explore the contributions of Motown and the music that was described as the “Sound of Young America.” As part of the weekend’s program, participants will attend a performance of Motown the Musical, directed by alumnus Charles Randolph Wright, at the Durham Performing Arts Center.

Participation is open to alumni, current Duke students, and Duke friends and family members that are at least 17 years of age. All minors must be accompanied by a supervising adult at all events. See the schedule of events below.

If you have any questions or trouble registering, please call 919-684-2988.

Schedule of Events


All Friday events held in the Cotton Room, 807 E Main Street, Suite 350, Durham, NC

6:30 PM: Registration

7:00 PM: Reception

7:30 PM: Musical Conversation on Motown

The music of Motown will fill the Cotton Room in this exciting lecture and demonstration lead by two dynamic professors from the Music Department, Anthony Kelley and John Brown. This presentation will provide background on the history and characteristics of the Motown sound, and participants will hear examples demonstrated LIVE by 18 instrumentalists and vocalists from the John Brown Big Band. Students from the music programs at Duke will also join the band for this high-energy, engaging musical conversation. •

  • John Brown, Director of the Duke Jazz Program and Associate Professor of the Practice of Music
  • Anthony Kelley, Associate Professor of the Practice of Music


8:30 AM: Continental Breakfast and Networking
Griffith Lobby, Bryan Center, West Campus

9:00 AM: Development of the Civil Rights Movement
Griffith Film Theater, Bryan Center, West Campus

Listen to renowned Duke professor and historian, William Chafe, on the history of the Civil Rights era – how it developed from a grassroots initiative to a nation-wide movement. Over the course of the hour presentation, participants will learn how the movement affected Duke and Durham, and the rest of the nation, and how Motown exemplified and promoted change during the 1960s.

  • William Chafe, Alice Mary Baldwin Professor of History, Emeritus and Faculty Co-Chair, Duke Human Rights Center, Franklin Humanities Institute

10:15 AM: Panel Discussion on Motown in the Modern World
Griffith Film Theater, Bryan Center, West Campus

A prestigious panel of alumni, faculty, and students join for a discussion on the relevance of Motown in today’s world. Over 50 years have passed since the height of the Motown era. Where are we now? What obstacles still exist? What lessons can we take from Motown’s example? Is the message found in so many of the musical hits of the era still relevant and why? Following the discussion, guests will have the opportunity to pose questions to the panel.

12:00 PM: Lunch and Keynote Address
Penn Pavilion, West Campus

Mark Anthony Neal, Duke professor, NPR commentator, author and host of Left of Black provides the keynote address, "Reflections: Motown and the Politics of Hi-Negro Style," for the weekend’s educational event.

  • Mark Anthony Neal, Professor, African & African American Studies and Duke Alumni Association Faculty Fellow

1:30 PM: Shuttles depart for Matinee Performance

2:00 PM: MOTOWN: the Musical
DPAC, 123 Vivian Street, Durham, NC 27701

"More than a Broadway show…a celebration of music that transformed America.” - CBS Sunday Morning

MOTOWN THE MUSICAL is Broadway’s record-breaking smash hit that tells the true story behind the beat that changed minds, touched lives and took the world by storm. Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations – MOTOWN THE MUSICAL shows how these legendary artists and so many more created the soundtrack that transformed America. With over 40 classic songs such as “My Girl,” “What’s Going On,” “Dancing in the Street,” “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” this explosive Broadway event is the next chapter of Motown’s incredible history – and an experience you’ll never forget.

5:00 PM: Post-Show Discussion with Director, Charles Randolph-Wright ’78 and cast members
Balcony Level, DPAC, 123 Vivian Street, Durham, NC 27701

Enjoy an exclusive conversation with members of the cast of MOTOWN: the Musical and the show director and alumnus Charles Randolph-Wright. If you’ve ever had a question about what it’s like to be on stage, here’s your opportunity! We will also discuss how the performers connect with the show, and what it is like to work on a production that is so closely linked to America’s cultural history.

6:00 PM: Closing Reception
Penn Pavilion

Reconnect with fellow alumni and faculty over tasty treats in Penn Pavilion following the show.


11:00 AM: Morning Chapel Service (optional)
Duke Chapel, West Campus

Join Duke and Durham community members in one of Duke’s most iconic and beloved buildings for a service that will tie together themes of the weekend’s program. Dean of the Chapel, Rev. Luke Powery, will lead the service, joined by the Duke Chapel Choir and the Duke Jazz Ensemble. All are welcome.

  • Rev. Luke Powery, Dean of the Chapel
  • Duke Chapel Choir


Additional notes:

Tickets to the performance of Motown the Musical will be assigned in order of registration. Some handicap accessible seating is available. Please contact Victoria George at 919-684-2988 to request special seating accommodations.

Questions: Contact Victoria George at the Duke Alumni Association at (919) 684-2988 or education@daa.duke.edu.

Refunds/Cancellations: Payment will be refunded until 30 days prior to the program’s start date, minus a $125.00 per person cancellation fee. No refunds will be available after January 20, 2015.

Program schedule and content: We reserve the right to revise the program itinerary as needed.

Disclaimer: Duke University has no responsibility in whole or in part for any loss, death, damage, or injury to person or property or accident, mechanical defect, failure, or negligence of any nature howsoever caused in connection with any accommodations, transportation, or other services. Baggage is at the owner’s risk entirely. The right is retained to decline to accept or retain any person as a participant should such person’s health, mental condition, physical infirmity, or attitude jeopardize the operation of the program or the rights, welfare, or enjoyment of other participants.