University to honor King: Full week of activities plannedBy Jennifer Carnig
This year’s campus-wide celebration of the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr. is shaping up to be the largest in University history. The University will commemorate King with an entire week of activities that a group of more than 50 faculty, staff and students are organizing.
Anchoring the weeklong celebration is the impressive keynote speaker Kweisi Mfume, former president of the NAACP.
“The collaboration among the various departments, divisions, administrators, faculty and students makes this an unprecedented undertaking for the University,” said Linda Choi, the lead coordinator of the week and Special Assistant to the Vice President and Dean of Students in the University for Diversity Affairs.
Choi said the goals of the activities, and the reasons for lengthening the commemoration, are to encourage the community—both on campus and throughout the Chicago area—to reflect on the principles of racial equality and nonviolent social change; to better understand the impact of the civil rights movement on society as a whole and on similar movements on behalf of women, Latinos, Asians and Native Americans; and to think about civil rights-related issues today, including voting rights, hate crimes, affirmative action and racial profiling.
The celebration will begin Monday, Jan. 10, and end Monday, Jan. 17, when Mfume will deliver the keynote speech at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel.
Mfume, 56, took over the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1996, and is credited with raising standards and expectations of the civil rights organization and providing it with a clear blueprint for its future. A Baltimore native, Mfume graduated magna cum laude from Morgan State University and earned an M.A. in international studies from Johns Hopkins University.
Mfume entered public service in 1979, winning a seat on the Baltimore city council by three votes. He held that seat for seven years, leading efforts to diversify city government, improve community safety and enhance minority business development. With that success, Mfume went on to easily win a seat in Congress in 1986. As a congressman, Mfume advocated landmark minority business and civil rights legislation, and he sponsored legislative initiatives banning assault weapons. Mfume served as chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, and later as the Caucus’ chair of the Task Force on Affirmative Action.
He left Congress in 1996 when he was appointed president of the NAACP, where he helped usher in a new generation for civil rights advocacy. His resignation from the civil rights organization became effective Saturday, Jan. 1, and to ensure a smooth transition, Mfume will serve as a consultant to the NAACP until Friday, July 1.
In addition to his career in politics and at the NAACP, Mfume worked for 13 years in broadcasting, and for nine years he hosted the television show The Bottom Line. His best-selling autobiography is entitled No Free Ride.
Mfume will speak on the theme of this year’s King celebration, “Living the Legacy.” While Mfume’s speech is the keynote address of the week, this year’s commemoration includes events that examine and celebrate Dr. King’s message in different formats and perspectives. The following is a list of the week’s programs. All events are free and open to the public except the student/alumni mixer on Thursday, Jan. 13.
More information can be found at http://mlk.uchicago.edu. Individuals with disabilities or special needs should contact the Office of Minority Student Affairs at (773) 834-4672 to request necessary accommodations such as early access, special seating or special parking access.