Elon’s 2021-22 Speaker Series continues in January

Among those visiting Elon this year are actor BD Wong, civic engagement advocate Eric Liu, astronaut Leland Melvin and researcher Belle Liang.

Elon University will welcome speakers of national and international prominence during the second half of the 2021-22 academic year at a series of engaging events designed to promote discussion and thought.

Find the complete Speaker Series lineup here.

Jan. 11 — Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Address: BD Wong

Alumni Gym, 6 p.m.

Award-winning actor BD Wong will deliver the 2022 Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Address as part of Elon’s annual events held to honor the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King.

The title of Wong’s address is “Change, Hope and Equality for Asian Americans.”

BD Wong

Appearing on screens big and small during the past 20 years, Wong has shown why he is one of the country’s most versatile performers, appearing in hits including “Law & Order: SVU,” “Oz,” “Mr. Robot,” “Gotham,” “Jurassic Park” and “Jurassic World.”

His Broadway debut in “M. Butterfly” earned him a Tony Award, an Outer Critic’s Circle Award, a Theatre World Award, a Clarence Derwent Award and a Drama Desk Award as he became the only actor to ever win all five major New York theater awards for a single role.

Wong has appeared in more than 20 films, including notable roles in both “Father of the Bride” movies, “Seven Years in Tibet,” Disney’s “Mulan” and the HBO adaptation of “The Normal Heart.” He has starred in the widely celebrated revival of the musical “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” and Stephen Sondheim’s “Pacific Overtures.”

Wong has spoken out about his experiences with rejection, typecasting and racism in the entertainment industry and has been praised for addressing issues including racial self-image, Asian-American parental pressure and the “model-minority myth.” In his memoir, “Following Foo: The Electronic Adventures of the Chestnut Man,” Wong recounted the highs and lows that he and his former partner endured on the road to parenthood.

Admission: $15 or Elon ID. For ticket information, call (336) 278-5610.

Feb. 8 — Eric Liu

Whitley Auditorium, 7:30 p.m.

Eric Liu is co-founder and CEO of Citizen University, a nonprofit national platform founded in 2005 to foster citizenship through activation, communication and education. He launched and now directs the Aspen Institute’s Citizenship & American Identity Program, an effort to advance conversation about the nature of American national identity.

The title of his address at Elon is “Become America: How to Revive Our Belief in Democracy.”

Eric Liu

A graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School, Liu is an advocate of engaged citizenship. His 2014 TED talk on civic power titled “Why ordinary people need to understand power,” has been viewed more than 2 million times. Recently, Liu has been elected to membership in the American Academy of the Arts and was selected to be a 2020 Ashoka Fellow by Ashoka, one of the world’s largest networks of social entrepreneurs.

Previously a White House speechwriter and deputy domestic policy adviser for President Bill Clinton, Liu is the author of several books including “The Accidental Asian: Notes of a Native Speaker,” “The Gardens of Democracy” (co-authored with Nick Hanauer), “You’re More Powerful Than You Think: A Citizen’s Guide to Making Change Happen,” and his most recent book, “Become America: Civic Sermons on Love, Responsibility and Democracy.”

March 31 — Baird Lecture: Leland Melvin

Alumni Gymnasium, Koury Center, 7 p.m.

Leland Melvin is an engineer, educator, former NASA astronaut and NFL wide receiver. He served on board the Space Shuttle Atlantis as a mission specialist on missions STS-122 (2008) and STS-129 (2009), helping to construct the International Space Station.

Drafted by the Detroit Lions in 1986 to play professional football, a hamstring injury thwarted his NFL career. Three years after being drafted, Melvin, who majored in chemistry in college, joined the NASA Langley Research Center. Less than a decade later, Melvin was selected as an astronaut. Upon hanging up his space boots, he led NASA Education and co-chaired the White House’s Federal Coordination in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Education Task Force, developing the nation’s 5-year STEM education plan.

After 24 years with NASA as a researcher, astronaut and Senior Executive Service leader, he now shares his life story as an athlete, astronaut, scientist, engineer, photographer and musician to help inspire the next generation of explorers to pursue STEM careers.

In May 2017, Melvin released his memoir, “Chasing Space: An Astronaut’s Story of Grit, Grace, and Second Chances.” In “Chasing Space,” Leland shares his personal journey from the gridiron to the stars, and examine the intersecting roles of community, perseverance, and grace that align to create the opportunities for success.

Admission: $15 or Elon ID. For ticket information, call (336) 278-5610.

April 5 — Belle Liang

Whitley Auditorium, 7:30 p.m.

Belle Liang

A professor of counseling psychology in the Lynch School of Education and Human Development at Boston College, Belle Liang’s research explores positive youth development including mentoring and relational health in adolescence and young adulthood.

She is the principal investigator in the Purpose Lab, and is currently developing True North, a curriculum and web-based application for creating purpose profiles to be used in schools and universities.

The lab also explores topics such as mentorship, gender, social oppression and privilege, and whole-person education.

Admission: $15 or Elon ID. For ticket information, call (336) 278-5610.