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Updated 10:00 AM December 4, 2006
 

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MLK Symposium offers positive message after Prop. 2

The 20th annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Symposium will follow the theme "Building the beloved community," an uplifting message, organizers say, following the passage last month of Proposal 2. The constitutional amendment outlaws both discrimination and preferential treatment on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender and national origin in public education, employment and contracting in Michigan.
Mfume (Courtesy American Program Bureau)

The 40-member 2007 MLK Symposium Planning Committee, which coordinates and promotes roughly 75 symposium-related events from Jan. 15 into February, selected the theme prior to the Nov. 7 passage of the ballot amendment, says Gena Flynn, coordinator for the MLK Symposium.

"The committee was particularly interested in highlighting what it takes for a community to rebuild on campus, nationally and globally," she says. "The theme took on particular importance after the passage of Proposal 2; we wanted to highlight the best efforts to make everyone feel included in our University community."

John Matlock, associate vice provost and director of the Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives says, "With the passage of Proposal 2, the 2007 symposium will have a special meaning to many faculty, staff and students. We are really going to have to pull together as a community if we are going to continue our advances toward the diverse community that we have embraced."

This year's keynote lecturer is former U.S. Rep. Kweisi Mfume, D-Md., scheduled to speak at 10 a.m. Jan. 15 at Hill Auditorium. Mfume (pronounced Kwah-EE-see Oom-FOO-may) rose from poverty in Baltimore to earn a master's degree in liberal arts from The Johns Hopkins University. His popularity as an activist, organizer and radio commentator translated into a grass-roots election victory when he won a seat on the Baltimore City Council in 1979, and was elected to Congress in 1986. He served on the Banking and Financial Services Committee and held the ranking seat on the General Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee.

During Mfume's third term, the speaker of the house chose him to serve on the Ethics Committee and the Joint Economic Committee of the House and Senate; Mfume later became chairman. As a member of the House of Representatives, he consistently advocated landmark business and civil rights legislation.

He successfully co-sponsored and helped to pass the Americans with Disabilities Act, strengthened the Equal Credit Opportunity Law and co-authored and successfully amended the Civil Rights Bill of 1991 to apply the act to U.S. citizens working for American-based companies abroad. He also sponsored legislative initiatives banning assault weapons and establishing stalking as a federal crime.

Mfume is expected to address major issues that can hinder communication and will highlight strategies to aid in community building.

Flynn stresses that in order for University departments, campus organizations and student groups to have their 2007 events listed in the commemorative program book honoring King, they need to register their MLK Symposium-related events by logging on to mlksymposium.umich.edu. Those who submit information by Dec. 8 will have their events listed in the printed program. Events can be entered at any time to appear online.

In other key MLK Symposium events, syndicated columnist Julianne Malveaux, who appears in newspapers across the country including the Los Angeles Times, New Orleans Tribune, Detroit Free Press and San Francisco Examiner and regularly appears as a commentator on network television, is scheduled to address "Economic Justice in the Beloved Community: Where Do We Go From Here," at 1:30 p.m. in the Mendelssohn Theatre, in the annual lecture sponsored by the Stephen M. Ross School of Business.

The closing speaker—time, date and location to be announced—is anti-racist educator and author Tim Wise, who also will be working with student leaders to maintain a positive campus environment.

"Since the election, the committee has been trying to make sure that events that are planned help create and sustain a positive environment on campus and in the community," Flynn says. "We want all the students to know everyone here is qualified to be here. We want the campus community to be as strong as it can be."

For additional information contact the Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives 936-1055 or mlkteam@umich.edu.

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