Musician/ Playwright/ Spoken-word artist and UMass Dartmouth Professor, Mwalim (Morgan James Peters) 'DaPhunkeeProfessor' was surprised and honored with a proclamation from the Boston City Council. During Mwalim's May 3rd presentation of "You're An NDN??" at the Dudley Branch Library, Ken Yarbough, special assistant to Charles Yancey made the presentation in front of an audience of about 30 - 40 people. Cited for his "27 years as a performing artist, writer, digital media artist, educator and mentor throughout the Boston area..." Mwalim was particularly recognized for his "Academic On The Block" initiative that brings presentations in the arts and humanities to community spaces, libraries and schools throughout eastern Massachusetts, including Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan.
Peters, who came to Boston in 1986 from New York City to attend Boston University as a music major, and found his way into the local arts community by way of the late Elma Lewis and eventually New African Company, where under the mentoring of the late James Spruill and Lynda Patton, he emerged as an award-winning playwright, director, spoken-word artist and arts educator. After a couple of years as a Boston Public School teacher, Mwalim returned to community based arts programs, feeling that he could make more of an impact through after-school and alternative educational programs.
After a successful three-year stint in New York City as an Off-Broadway playwright and director from 2000-2003, Mwalim returned to Massachusetts to assume his duties at UMass Dartmouth as an English professor and to help run New African Company upon Spruill and Patton's retirement. He became company's Playwright-In-Residence in 2004 and hold the post to this day. In cooperation with the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, where he is the Assistant Grand Historian, New African Company formed The PACK (Performing Artist Communicating Knowledge) a theater company dedicated to exploring Black History in New England through drama. The PACK and the Grand Lodge recently presented Mwalim's play "Among Brothers" a trilogy of one-acts about Prince Hall and the formation of African Lodge.
The 2011 "Educator of the Year" for the Cape Cod NAACP, Mwalim was named Director of Black Studies at UMass Dartmouth where he is coordinating the efforts to re-vamp the program. The release of his latest CD "DEEP Soul Chants & Hollers" will be celebrated at the Milky Way Lounge on June 8th and his play "Wetu in the City" will be presented at Hibernian Hall on Nov 15 - 18.
Photo Credit: Vernon C Robinson