Civil rights postponed

By By Jade Gray

By Jade Gray

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” said Roderic Land, quoting Martin Luther King Jr. at a panel Tuesday.

He introduced the panel, “Treading Water,” which was sponsored by the U’s Office of Diversity, and moderated the event.

Land, of the education, culture and society department, went on to praise King and his work.

“(King) was the truest of true patriots because he believed that the American society could live how they spoke in principle,” he said.

The panel was composed of professionals and faculty members from the U and dealt with issues currently affecting American society.

Issues under scrutiny were immigration, voting rights, academic success and equality and the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens.

U professors Enrique Aleman, Pei-Te Lien, Elizabeth Clement and William Smith spoke about these issues based on what they’ve learned through research and experiences.

Aleman, a professor in the education, culture and society department, spoke of growing up on the U.S.-Mexican border and how his family is rooted in Texas’ history. He discussed aspects of immigration that the public might not be aware of.

“There are illegal immigrants being put in detention centers run by private companies where children are being schooled only an hour each day,” he said, “and these children are U.S.-born.”

Aleman went on to describe the United States’ disparities surrounding immigration.

“When it is good for our country to let people in and work for the U.S., it’s looked at as a good thing,” he said. “But when it’s bad for our country, it becomes a national security threat; this shows the racism present in the issue of immigration.”

Lien, of the political science department, said although it has been legal for all American citizens to vote in the United States for a long time, there are still some discrepancies on the numbers of voters.

“Our theme of ‘Civil Rights Postponed’ applies to voting rights because minority voters experience a high level of voter intimidation,” she said.

Lien went on to describe how during the presidential elections of 2000 and 2004, communities with higher concentrations of ethnic groups were purposely given false information regarding voting times and places.

“These communities were plastered with fliers giving false information on where to vote and when and telling people that if they were Republicans or Democrats, they would have to vote at different places,” she said.

Makeda Meeks, a junior in international studies and member of the Black Student Union, said open discussions like these are completely necessary to society today and that “critical discussions about these issues are what Martin Luther King was about.”

Lisa Teran

A panel of U professors prepare to speak for “Treading Water,” a discussion held in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the Union Ballroom on Tuesday. The panel covered issues such as immigration, voting rights, academic equality and the rights of LGBT citizens.