Movie director John Singleton is speaker for Jan. 22 MLK program

In observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, Old Dominion will honor the civil rights leader's legacy with a speech by acclaimed movie director John Singleton Tuesday, Jan. 22.

Singleton, director of the 1991 film "Boyz N the Hood," will deliver the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Lecture at 7:30 p.m. in the Webb Center cafeteria. His talk is free and open to the public.

Singleton made film history when, at age 24, he became the youngest person and the first African American to be nominated for a "Best Director" Academy Award for "Boyz," a personal portrait of life and death in southcentral Los Angeles. A native of the neighborhood, Singleton drew on his own experiences for the film. Columbia Pictures bought his script for "Boyz N the Hood" and budgeted $7 million for the picture.

He also directed "Poetic Justice" (1993), "Higher Learning" (1995), "Rosewood" (1997), "Shaft" (2000) and "Baby Boy" (2001).

"Baby Boy," about an irresponsible, unemployed and unmarried young man who has out-of-wedlock children, was among the Best Film nominees for the 33rd annual NAACP Image Awards, honoring the best of black entertainment in film, TV, music and literature.

The son of a mortgage broker and a pharmaceutical company sales executive, Singleton attended the Filmic Writing Program at the University of Southern California after graduating from high school in 1986. As a USC student, he won three writing awards, which led to a contract with Creative Artists Agency during his sophomore year.

The university will present its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Award to long-time inner-city recreation organizer Columbus "Joe" Austin Jr. for his leadership and efforts on behalf of social justice.

Austin, a native of the Berkley neighborhood of Norfolk, is a graduate of Booker T. Washington High School and the Norfolk division of Virginia State College, now Norfolk State University. He was a playground leader and athletic supervisor for the city of Norfolk, as well as unit director for the Colonial Avenue Boys Club.