Western Courier

Students celebrate King legacy

Lisa Lipscomb

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The memory and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was not confined to just one day of celebration.The 11th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Celebration took place Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in the University Union Grand Ballroom. The theme for the evening was “Our Future … Our Youth Enriching Our Lives by Fulfilling Our Dreams.”

The Gwendylon Brooks Cultural Center Dance Troupe performed at the celebration, and musical selections were performed by Patrick Saisi and Friends and Angelique Johnson.

Marcia Whitehead, president of the Black Student Association, began the evening by talking about how children play an important role in the future of the country. She said, “We need to recognize and respect children for who they are.” She also said children are very impressionable and people need to recognize they are role models and set examples for children by showing positivity. Whitehead said if people love their inner selves then children will love themselves, and they should try to find some spiritual bond where they can love themselves whether through Buddhism, Hinduism or Christianity.

Guest speaker Gregory M. Gordon, assistant professor of history at the College of Lake County, spoke about where America is in terms of race relations. He said the civil rights movement is not over and there is a long way to go before full equality is achieved.

Gordon said the way whites and blacks view race relations differ. He said whites view it in terms of what has been done, and blacks view it in terms of what is yet to be done.

Blacks and whites need to discuss race relations with one another and not hide behind denial and blame, according to Gordon.

Reparations have been paid to the families of Native American, Japanese and Jewish survivors but not the descendants of African-American slaves. Gordon said he would settle for a letter of apology acknowledging the injustices which took place, but whites resent paying for what happened over 130 years ago.

Cliches blacks and whites use when talking about race relations were also pointed out by Gordon. Gordon said one of the most common cliches whites use is, “Some of my best friends are black.” Gordon challenges the people who say this to examine if those blacks really are their friends, not merely their co-worker or neighbor, but someone whose house they visit or with whom they do extracurricular activities.

“I don’t see color,” is another cliche whites use, according to Gordon. Gordon said if a person cannot see color they need to get their eyes checked. He said there is a difference between being color-blind and color-conscious. In order to be color-conscious, a person needs to go beyond the classroom and seek others who are different and learn about them.

Gordon said racism is a very serious American disease and if someone is not part of the solution he or she is part of the problem. Gordon offered some ideas to improve race relations. Such ideas included attending relations forums, knowing what each other feels, including Latinos and Asians, trying not to interrupt or take offense, listening and taking multicultural classes.

The recent Denny’s and Texaco conflicts are two examples of race relations problems, according to Gordon. Also, the fact that blacks make only 60 cents for every dollar whites make adds to the problem.

Propositions 209 and 187 will poison race relations, according to Gordon. Proposition 209 is the bill which would end affirmative action, and Proposition 187 is the bill which would deny medical care and schooling to illegal immigrants. Gordon said King strongly supported affirmative action as a way of achieving true equality. He finds it ironic that whites want to end affirmative action when the major beneficiaries of the program are white females.

Gordon asks people to review their own feelings about racism. Some questions he presented were, “Should you tell or laugh at racist jokes?” or “Would you ever have problems dating someone of another race? Or have a problem with a family member dating someone of another race?

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Students celebrate King legacy