SOURCE: National Association of Hispanic Journalists

National Association of Hispanic Journalists

February 19, 2009 14:05 ET

Tony Award-Winner Lin-Manuel Miranda to Keynote NAHJ Banquet

"In The Heights" Creator's Work Tells Latino Story; Gala Benefits Scholarships

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - February 19, 2009) - Tony Award-winning playwright and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of 2008's Best Musical "In The Heights," will be the keynote speaker at the National Association of Hispanic Journalists' 20th Annual NAHJ Scholarship Banquet next week in New York City.

Miranda, 29, who began writing the musical that won four Tony Awards when he was a sophomore at Wesleyan University, will address journalists, media executives, students, and members of the Latino business, arts and grassroots communities, at one of NAHJ's premiere fundraising events on Thursday, February 26, 2009 at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers in Manhattan.

The annual gala benefits the Rubén Salazar Scholarship Fund, which offers financial aid annually to about 25 aspiring journalists. Through the fund, named for a Mexican-American journalism pioneer killed by police in Los Angeles in 1970, NAHJ has awarded more than $1.5 million to 550 students since 1988.

"Lin-Manuel's play and songs are a story about our communities, about our collective experience as Latinos, both immigrant and home grown, and that is what NAHJ's mission is all about when it comes to news, telling our story," said NAHJ Executive Director Iván Román. "And the fact that he was able to write this and succeed at such a young age is inspirational for our students and for all of us."

Infused with rap, salsa, merengue, and other Caribbean rhythms, "In The Heights" portrays the hopes and dreams of three generations in Manhattan's Latino and immigrant Washington Heights community on the brink of transition. The play broke several box office records, won four 2008 Tony Awards, including Miranda's award for best music and lyrics, and is credited with bringing a whole new audience to Broadway.

Maggie Rodríguez, co-anchor of CBS' The Early Show, will be the emcee for this special evening. New York Daily News staff columnist and Democracy Now co-host Juan González will host the evening as the honorary banquet chair.

Past keynote speakers include New Mexico Governor and recent presidential candidate Bill Richardson, Puerto Rico Gov. Sila Calderón, NBC News Anchor Tom Brokaw, PBS Senior Correspondent Ray Suarez, ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero, CNN Senior International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour, and Manuel Vázquez Portal, one of 23 journalists jailed in Cuba during a crackdown on press freedom in 2003.

The reception begins at 6:30 p.m. followed by dinner at 7:30 p.m. at the hotel, 811 7th Avenue at 53rd Street. To date, banquet sponsors include Continental Airlines, Hearst Newspapers, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Con Edison, FOX News Channel, NBC 4, Telemundo 47, NY1 News/NY1 Noticias, Verizon, and The Walt Disney Company. Discounted individual tickets are now available. To purchase tickets or become a sponsor, contact Iván Román, NAHJ Executive Director, at 202-662-7178 or iroman@nahj.org. To download the form to purchase tickets and for more details, go to http://www.nahj.org/sponsorship/specialevents/2009/Banquet/09banquet.shtml

Founded in 1984, NAHJ's 2,300 members seek to increase the percentage of Hispanics working in our nation's news media and improve news coverage of the Latino community. For more information, visit www.nahj.org.

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