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Jan. 9, 2004

U-M events honor Martin Luther King, Jr.

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Fresh off a year when University of Michigan was at the epicenter of the affirmative action debate and fostered much civil rights discussion in a Supreme Court defense of its admissions policies, the University will sustain that momentum with its annual event honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

Along with serving as the University's 17th annual commemoration of the civil rights activist, the symposium also will kick off U-M's theme semester devoted to the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision. The theme for the 2004 symposium is "Still Separate? Still Unequal? Brown v. Board of Education, 50 Years Later ."

"This year, the University has a special reason to be proud of its commitment to diversity, and to celebrate the legacy of Dr. King," President Mary Sue Coleman said. "As we observe this event, we recognize that although we have made great progress since 1954, we still have a great deal of work to accomplish in order to realize the dream of Dr. King."

John Matlock, associate vice provost and director of the Office of Academic and Multicultural Initiatives, said: "The issues of educational access and equality are just as appropriate today as they were 50 years ago. It is a reminder to our young people of how far we have come as a nation, but also a reminder of how much further we have to go. We are not there yet."

More than a month of events begin Jan. 12 with "A Conversation with the Brown Sisters." Linda Brown Thompson and Cheryl Brown Henderson, daughters of the Rev. Oliver Brown—a plaintiff in Brown v. Board—will discuss their experiences at 6 p.m. and take questions from the audience at Rackham Auditorium.

Lani Guinier, a professor at Harvard Law School, will deliver the MLK Symposium keynote address at 10 a.m. Jan. 19 in Hill Auditorium. Guinier was nominated by President Bill Clinton in 1993 to head the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, but her name was withdrawn without a confirmation hearing.

Guinier, the first African American woman appointed to a tenured professorship at Harvard Law, will speak about "Becoming Racially Literate: Reclaiming the Public Mission of Higher Education."

The busiest day of the MLK Symposium (Jan. 19) continues at 2 p.m. with a lecture by Harvard law professor Christopher Edley Jr. in the Michigan Union Ballroom. Edley will discuss "50 Years Since Brown v. Board of Education."

"I hope this year's event will influence people to continually question what may seem unfair and take initiative on making changes that benefit the greater community," said Silvia Carranza, symposium coordinator and OAMI program associate.

The exhibit "Views and Voices: U-M's Case for Diversity" opens Jan. 13 at the Media Union Gallery on North Campus and continues through Jan. 30. It resumes Feb. 9-20. The exhibit will examine the University's role in the national debate about diversity and the Supreme Court decisions upholding the principle of diversity in college admissions.

Arturo Rodriguez, president of the United Farm Workers of America, AFL-CIO, will be featured in the symposium's speaker series at 6 p.m. Jan. 21 in the Anderson Room of the Michigan Union. Rodriguez will discuss "Labor and Social Change: Moving from the Past to Visions of the Future."

Native American activist, poet and artist John Trudell will deliver the closing lecture at 6 p.m. Jan. 26 at the Michigan Union's Pendleton Room. Symposium events will continue through Feb. 12.

"It is quite fitting that the University of Michigan has begun its semester-long commemoration of the Brown decision on the national holiday honoring Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.," said Lester Monts, senior vice provost for academic affairs and senior counselor to the president for the arts, diversity and undergraduate affairs. "Dr. King firmly believed providing quality education to all would lead the nation toward the ideals of equality and justice.

"It is a belief we are still trying to make a reality."

An updated list of MLK Symposium events can be found at


Contact: Jared Wadley
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