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January 14, 1994 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-01-14

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, January 14, 1994

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420 Maynard
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Edited and managed
by students at the
University of Michigan

Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editor

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the majority opinion of the Daily editorial board.
All other cartoons, articles and letters do not necessarily represent the opinion of the Daily.

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* MLK Day is for students, not administrative agendas

Five years ago, African American students at the
E University forced the administration to cancel
classes,, allowing them to observe the Dr. Martin
Luther King, Jr. holiday. Since that time, many
changes have come to and from the University,
including the movement toward multiculturalism
and the official observance of Martin Luther King
Day (MLK Day). Generally, multiculturalism has
served as a positive backlash to a University that
was, for so many years, indifferent to the needs of
minorities. Yet, MLK Day is not a bully pulpit for
the multicultural agenda. And the University is
using the holiday as just that.
Events for MLK Day are scheduled by the
Office of Multicultural Affairs (OAMI). Formerly
the Office of Minority Affairs, this year was a test
for the new office and its new director, Lester
Monts. Clearly, the OAMI flunked this exam. In
the past, the University's observance of this day has
been marked by nationally recognized speakers,
whom often discussed the status of Dr. King's
dream, and how far civil rights and race relations in
America have come - as well as how far they have
to go. Unfortunately, this year's MLK Day does not
contain the same caliber of speakers that have
graced the occasion in previous years. While the
day still has something to offer students, going
from past speakers such as Dennis Archer and Alex
Haley to Dr. Charles H. Long (Lester Monts'
uncle) marks a significant decline in the quality of
the MLK Day events. And while Dr. Long is
probably an eloquent speaker, his address on
multiculturalism is not appropriate as a memorial
lecture to Dr. King.
This year's MLK Day falls far short of being an
adequate recognition of the achievements of Dr.
King, and does not do justice to the student struggles
which forced the recognition of the holiday at the
University. The MLK Day planning committee,
organized by the OAMI, needed to take this into
The year in re

consideration, but did not. This year's committee
consisted of five faculty members, six administra-
tors, seven staff members and only six students.
This committee was fated to fail from the begin-
ning because of its lack of input from Black student
groups (the committee meetings were closed to the
public). After all, student groups such as these are
the only reason the University recognizes this
The main problem is that many programs in this
year's MLK Day focus on "diversity" rather than
the original meaning of the day: the work of Dr.
Martin Luther King and the struggle of African
Americans for civil rights. Multiculturalism and
diversity are certainly issues which many different
members of this University need to discuss. How-
ever, MLK Day is not the best time to do it. Many
of the most positive aspects of multiculturalism
will be lost if, instead of recognizing the many
different cultures that make up this University as
separate entities, and allowing each of these culb
tures to celebrate certain days (such as allowing
MLK Day activities to focus on Dr. King and the
struggle for black civil rights), the University at-
tempts to lump them all together in some mass
celebration of "diversity." Multiculturalism in the
University community should be about recogniz-
ing the unique aspects of different cultures, and
allowing those to be expressed. Turning MLK Day
into a "multicultural" day robs it of much of its
proper significance.
MLK Day should be used, much as it has been
in the past, to commemorate the efforts and struggles
of one of the most influential men in American
history. And the University student groups who
had everything to do with bringing recognition of
this day to campus should have a much larger role
in planning its observance. It's a shame that the
OAMI has taken this opportunity to further its own
agenda at the expense of a valuable holiday.

MLK Day aat the

I am appalled at Mr. Smith's
attitude in his letter of January . It is
exactly the sort of apathetic thinking
that has fostered a decline in the
spirit of MLK Day. Even if you were
only playing the role of the "devil's
advocate" on this issue, you brought
up a few points. In retrospect of the
attendance of past MLK Day events,
these must be the prevailing attitude
of many, therefore these are issues
that I feel must be addressed. First of
all, I agree that we as a people have
gone far astray of the original intent
of commemorating Dr. King, but that
is no reason to scrap the day. Rather
than deconstruct the celebration, we
need to reconstruct how we plan to
spend the day.
Mr. Smith has probably not been
here long enough to experience the
definitive sting of institutional racism
from those who question how and
why you are still here. Nor is it likely
that you have had to face a shortfall
of scholarship and/or financial aid
monies and had to sit out a term.
Also, you were not yet a student here
when my fellow students (as well as
personal friends of mine) were
manhandled by the campus police
during protests to their deputization,
then put through the wringer of the
University's legal machine.
True, we attend a 'liberal'
university; however, the day in
which the University has our
absolute best interests at heart, is the
day that total equality will be
achieved. Until then, don't be fooled!
While many strides have been made,
there is still a long, hard road ahead
of us, laden with struggles. I spent
my first few years of life here in Ann
Arbor, so I merely have to look to
my parents and my own memories to
see how the University community
has changed since the '70s. We have
Miles is an Engineering junior.

come a long way, but still have quite
a trek ahead of us.
I know that many students and
their parents sacrifice a great deal in
order to make a higher education
possible. Moreover, I know what a
personal struggle it is because my
parents have 3 children in college.
Inasmuch as it is an academic
sacrifice (what could be worse than
taking one day off from a
predominantly Eurocentric
curriculum to celebrate your own
heritage?), observance of this day is a
personal and collective sacrifice that
we must also make. Personally, we
need to take this time to delve into
our past and work to resolve
questions and conflicts within
ourselves. Collectively, we need to
take this time that the University has
allotted (the struggle for this "day
off" is another essay entirely) to
observe our Exodus from an abysmal
past into a luminous future. Much of
this is due to the trials, tears and
blood of one man, Reverend Dr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. While there
were certainly many other great
leaders of the civil rights movement,
King is the only one who has been
given a national holiday to
commemorate his life. Not only is
Dr. King honored during this day,
but also the achievements of an entire
race are celebrated.
Being given the day off is a way
in which the University has
attempted to make the academic.
environment more open and
appreciative of the University
community's diversity - so take it.
Instead of bemoaning the plight of
[or observance of] the day, do
something to improve it. The
activities and symposiums that the
University as well as many schools
and campus organizations are
sponsoring to commemorate the day
are myriad. If you are unaware of the

J 7 WAf
PUnier Sity
scheduled events, pick up a copy of
the University Record or contact
someone in the Office of Minority
Affairs. There are plenty of sources
of information and Mr. Smith seems
to be a resourceful young man. If you
spent as much time investigating the
day's activities as you did in V
compiling the statistics of the
collective fiduciary loss, you may
actually find one or two activities
that interest you. Elect yourself a
committee of one. By validating the
existence of the holiday by observing
it yourself, you send our a message
that you are trying to make a
Just think how different our liv4
would be had the leaders of the civil
rights movement been as apathetic
and lethargic as many of us are.
There would have been no
movement at all. African Americans,
particularly our men need to take this
time to prove that Black Nationalism
is not in a catatonic state, but vital
and thriving. Even if you don't
subscribe to what Dr. King stood fo
you yourself must stand for
I am not saying that there is
anything wrong with taking the day
as one to relax or catch up, but we
need to spend some time reflecting
upon ourselves and who we are. By
taking advantage of some of what is
being offered, you may glean some
knowledge for which no monetary
value can be calculated. Also, I am
not saying all celebration should be
of a somber nature. Anyone who
knows me will tell you that I will
probably be all up in the gigs gettin'
my boogie on! Antithetically, I will
also be attending many of the day's
cultural events to strengthen my
mind and my soul. These are the
Souls of Black Folk, they should not

go unfed on this day. Don't nix it
fix it! Peace.
[ day
dedicated Black activists on this
campus have forced the University
to confront have not been
implemented. The highest drop-ouP*
rates of any University group, lack
of proper financial aid, inadequate
academic support systems, and
shamefully low numbers of Black
Professors and Teaching Assistants,
are but a few struggles Black
students continue to face.
Therefore, the unacceptable
process of implementation of this
year's MLK Day Symposium has.
led the Black Student Union, the
organization representing the views
of Black students, to completely
boycott the events sponsored-by the
Office of the Vice Provost for
Multicultural Affairs. In protest;
The black Student Union will be
holding the Umoja (Unity) March
and alternative programming
focused on teaching ourselves abo
our great leaders, African
independence, self-determination
and reality.

Clinton has had a successful first year in office

All said, President Bill Clinton has had a good
1993. As the anniversary of his first year in the
Oval Office approaches, it is instructive for the
public to look back upon the successes, failures,
strengths and weaknesses of the 52nd President's
initial showing. Arkansas Governor (ranked as the
most effective Governor in the nation) turned na-
tional leader, Bill Clinton is the quintessential
political pragmatist and realist- a real New Demo-
crat of our age. Even though this centrist designa-
tion scares traditional liberal Democrats and those
to the left of the political spectrum, the outcome of
William Jefferson Clinton's presidency could be
the ultimate test of the survivability of the so-called
Democratic Party in the upcoming 21st century. If
Clinton goes down, so to could the Party go down
in flames with him.
And so far, it looks promising for the Demo-
crats. Clinton has proved that he has the political
skills to navigate the rough seas of Capitol Hill. He
has passed substantive legislative bills and imple-
mented executive orders that will increase voter
accessibility to registration sites, secure family
leave for new parents, tear down the Reagan-Bush
legacy of abortion prohibition, provide for some
Croll's Camera Corner

measure of deficit reduction in the federal budget,
open up the Canadian and Mexican markets along
the lines of free and fair trade and begin to stop the
insidious trend that allows children to purchase a
gun as easily as an ice cream cone.
Bill has run into trouble from both conservative
Southern Democrats, like Senator Sam Nunn (D-
Georgia), and from his GOP rivals, lead by maver-
ick Minority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kansas) and his
cadre of political aficionados - all with an eye on
the 1994 Senate elections and the 1996 presidential
election. And don't coun't out the ubiquitous dema-
gogue H. Ross Perot, a delusional schizophrenic
with a Texas accent, who has nothing better to do
than to make charts.
President Clinton has taken a derth of attacks
that question his political vision, moral base, ad-
ministrative ability and past business dealings. It is
true that Clinton is known for his compromises and
so-called "waffling." But, in the end, he is simply
reacting and responding to political reality, and
especially as a neo-liberal in a moderate era, he has
no other choice but to wheel-and-deal. With Bill in
town, at least something gets accomplished.
Next stop: health care reform.

BSU:m Boycott official MLI

In January 1987, a fervor of
activism arose at the University of
Michigan. Black students fought
and demanded that the University
recognize and observe the birthday
of activist and leader, Dr. Martin
Luther King, Jr. On that day, black
students shut down classes and
marched to the Michigan Union. At
the Union, students rallied and
spoke about Dr. King, in a
celebration of Black activism and
cultural pride.
By 1989, the University
officially recognized the King Day
observance. Black political
activists, leaders and social
reformers headlined the day's
festivities. The theme,
"Empowerment and Equity: a
challenge of the King legacy,"
focused on the Movement for
African Independence and our
Gordon is Speaker for the Black
Student Union

survival through the struggle of the
African holocaust. Further, MLK
Day was an occasion to recognize
Native American, Latino, and Asian
nationalist issues around land,
economic independence and self-
The 1994 Martin Luther King
symposium fails to honor the
history of activism out of which the
symposium was created. This year's
theme, "American culture of
America" the Multicultural is not
concerned with, nor relevant to the
community from which Dr. King
arose. The University department
that plans and promotes the
symposium, the Office of the Vice
Provost of Multicultural Affairs,
has purposely forgotten Dr. King's
community, offering programs that
propose nothing more than
academic rhetoric. The programs
clearly lack the Black activists and
cultural heroes characteristic of
other symposiums.
In addition, all the demands

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