MLK celebrations target social issues

By By Jade Gray and

By Jade Gray

The U’s Office of Diversity will kick off the 23rd annual weeklong celebration honoring Martin Luther King Jr. today with its “Treading Water” panel.

The panel was organized for campus and community members to discuss recent issues surrounding the rights of Americans, including recent setbacks in civil and voting rights. The panel will be composed of several U faculty members, all with experience and knowledge on diversity issues in the United States.

Roderic Land of the education, culture and society department will moderate the event.

William Smith, also a professor in the education, culture and society department, will talk about academic success and equality, while Pei-te Lien of the political science department will address voting rights in America.

Elizabeth Clement, from the history department, will discuss issues facing the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community, and Enrique Aleman of the educational leadership and policy department will speak about the latest developments in the immigration debate.

Kristi Ryujin, senior vice president for academic affairs and coordinator of the panel, said, “These issues were chosen because they’re very current, and if you open a paper today, these issues are everywhere.”

An example, she said, is the anti-LGBT legislation that was implemented in the last election. ‘”Pride Day posters are current local issues, and such actions are the reason that these discussions are so important,” she said.

The panel begins today at noon in the Union Ballroom.

Other events taking place during the week will span from a keynote address by activist Angela Davis to a diabetes awareness forum.

Angela Davis will speak about civil and human rights and experiences from her own life. She was once on the FBI’s Most Wanted list during the 1970s on false accusations and was put on trial after being arrested, leading to one of the most renowned trials in recent history. Davis currently teaches at the University of California, Santa Cruz, after once being told she would never again teach in the California school system due to her activism.

Davis will speak in the Union Ballroom on Wednesday at noon.

The diabetes awareness health fair, sponsored by the Office for Diversity, aims to increase understanding about the disease. The health fair will take place during the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration week because it has been shown that people of color statistically have higher rates of the diabetes and other serious illnesses due to what some call disparities in health care.

The health fair will take place on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Northwest Multipurpose Center, located at 1300 W. 300 South.

All events are free and open to the public.