Stephen Henderson to Receive Award, Give Address at Buffalo State Broadway Legend to Share His Story with Upward Bound Students 

Award-winning actor, director, and educator Stephen McKinley Henderson will deliver a talk about his career and how he participated in the U.S. Department of Education’s Upward Bound program as a high school student in Kansas City, Kansas, during Buffalo State College’s  Upward Bound banquet on Thursday, August 11, at 7:00 p.m.

 Henderson will present the keynote address at the event celebrating local high school students who completed the six-week Upward Bound summer program at Buffalo State. The banquet begins at 7:00 p.m., preceded by mocktails at 6:00 p.m., in the Campbell Student Union Social Hall.

Upward Bound, now in its 36th year at Buffalo State, enables qualified ninth- through 12th-graders at McKinley, Lafayette, and East high schools to receive tutoring, personal development workshops, and help with career planning. Throughout the summer, students live in Buffalo State residence halls and take a full slate of core academic classes with certified Buffalo Public Schools teachers.

 Every year as part of the celebratory banquet, Upward Bound organizers select a recipient of the Hal D. Payne Educational Opportunity Lifetime Service Award who also delivers the keynote address. This year they selected Henderson.

“We chose to honor Stephen because of his wide range of stage and film work that speaks so eloquently to the African American experience,” said Donald Patterson, who has served as the director of Buffalo State’s Upward Bound program since 2001. “And Henderson was an Upward Bound student himself decades ago, which ultimately led to his theater career.”

A professor emeritus and former chair of the University at Buffalo’s Department of Theatre and Dance, Henderson also taught at the Juilliard School and Fordham University.

Henderson garnered several awards over his storied career, including the 2015 Obie Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Walter “Pops” Washington in the productions of the Pulitzer Prize–winning play Between Riverside and Crazy and the Drama Desk Award for his role of Turnbo in August Wilson’s play Jitney. He also received a Tony Award nomination for his portrayal of Jim Bono in the Broadway revival of Wilson’s Fences, starring Denzel Washington.        

“It’s an understatement to say he serves as a great source of inspiration to current Upward Bound students,” Patterson said.

 On average, 90 percent of students who participate in Upward Bound go on to college; many enroll at Buffalo State.  And the future looks bright. Buffalo State received a $2.3 million grant this month from the U.S. Department of Education to fund Upward Bound for the next five years.