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January 18, 1994 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 1994-01-18

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10 The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, January 18, 1994

Despite boycott,

'U' speakers discuss diversity

Activist
advocates
social justice
By JILL SRIGLEY
FOR THE DAILY
What might Martin Luther King
Jr. be doing if he were alive today?
In her address yesterday, Mary
Frances Berry asked attendees to
think about which issues King would
have put at the top of his agenda.
Berry, a nationally known activ-
ist, scholar, and author, was recently
named head of the U.S. Commis-
sion on Civil Rights by President
Clinton. Berry suggested that people
could live in King's tradition by
doing small yet courageous things
in support of social justice.
About 250 people gathered in
the Michigan Union Ballroom' yes-
terday morning to hear Berry speak
about King's commitment to the
social ideals of civil rights and
worldwide peace.
Berry's speech was interrupted
with applause when she demanded
that politicians stop blaming female-
headed households for America s
social problems.
Berry said she
believes Black
social problems
have specific
causes like un-
employment and
drug use. "If you
think that prob-
lems in African
American fami-
lies are caused by
lack of values, Bevy
you don't have to spend any money"
to solve those problems, she said.
Berry, who earned a Ph.D. in his-
tory and a law degree from the Univer-
sity, said she was happy to find the
Black Student Union protesting the
symposium "in Michigan tradition."
Ofher federal appointment, she said,
"My job is to help Clinton do the right
thing" about civil rights issues. She is
particularly concerned with equality in
education, and asked, "Why can't all
school be good schools, instead of just
some?"
The address was sponsored by the
Schoolof Information and Library Stud-
ies and the University Library. Plan-
ning for the event began last fall.
Charles Ransom, the committee's
chair and a Graduate Librarian, said
Berry was chosen to give the address
because of her national reputation and
affiliation with the University. He was
impressedwithBerry'sspeech and with
Berry personally, saying that she "knew
a lot about everything."

ART EXHIBIT

Head of Black studies dept.
says society must change

MARY I TIUU O/Daily
Tish Lehman participates in an interactive art exhibit in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. at Rackham Gallery. The
cloth pockets on the wall, filled with comments written by participants, will eventually be sewn together.
Bringing issues from TV to real life, Cosby
consultant discusses need to end violence

By ZACHARY RAIMI
FOR THE DAILY
The melodious voices of Highest
Praise, an a cappella ensemble, cap-
tured the essence of Martin Luther King
Jr. Day yesterday in the Business
School's Hale Auditorium with songs
of hope and promise. The ensemble set
the tone for a speech by Dr. Alvin
Poussaint, an associate professor of
psychiatry and associate dean for stu-
dentaffairs at Harvard Medical School.
Delivered before a multi-racial au-
dience of almost 400 people that
spanned the generations, Poussaint's
speech discussed the importance of
remembering history, stressed the ne-
cessity of humility in diversity, and
offered suggestions about how to live
and work in a diverse world.
As a script consultant for "The
Cosby Show," Poussaint used some of
the same issues that he talked about
yesterday to achieve a realistic glimpse
into Black America. He also used in-
sight from books he has written, such
as "Why Blacks Kill Blacks."
Business School Student Govern-
ment President Sunder Aaron said
Poussaint can "give us a unique opin-
ion on diversity issues in corporate
America. At the Business School we
stress diversity. It is a message impor-
tant to us. An expert like Dr. Poussaint
adds to the value of the education we
receive here."

As students and faculty gathered to
honor Martin Luther King Jr. and his
accomplishments, Poussaint began his
speech with this very theme.
"Martin Luther King was about
bringing people together. The Civil
Rights movement and Martin Luther
King helped lay
the groundwork
'(for the) Black
'consciousness
movement." And
this helped other
oppressed groups,
such as women,
gay men and les-
bians, in their
Poussaint struggles for equal
rights, he said.
Poussaint said understanding is
necessary as minorities gain power and
prestige in society. "Let us ... under-
stand that to have strength and diver-
sity, it takes effort and humility. That's
what Martin Luther King had. He was
ready to listen to every person. ... We
need to learn how to listen, and listen
with humility."
As the workplace becomes more
multicultural, diversity education must
start with parents, Poussaint explained.
"The issue of diversity starts very, very
early and we have to start it there."
He discussed the lack of inclusive-
ness in our society, citing fairy tales as
an example. He said all the princes and

princesses in fairy tales are white, and
unless parents make special notice that
all different kinds of people can fit that
role, our society will not change. "This
doesn't mean some people are plot-
ting," he said, "just that some aren't
willing to change."
Poussaint said the first step in change
is self-examination. He challenged
people "not to assume all is right in the
world. Knowing how to work with
people is a more important issue."
Questions after the speech focused
on the process of learning how to
accept and be accepted in a diverse, and
sometimes prejudiced world.
Audience members cited a variety
of reasons for their interest in the speech.
Ann Arbor resident Judy Castora, who
teaches elementary school in Detroit,
said she attended the speech "for per-
sonal and professional concerns so I
can share (Dr. Poussaint's) perspective
(with my students) and myself."
First year MBA student Anthony
Rome said Poussaint's comments
"were very relevant given today's
whole celebration. There are a lot of
issues still unresolved since Martin
Luther King's heyday, particularly the
power of diversity."
Rome, who received his under-
graduate degree from the University in
1990,said he thinks a lot has been done
at the University to "create a
multicultural atmosphere."

By RACHEL SCHARFMAN
DAILY STAFF REPORTER
In honor of Martin Luther King
Jr.'s dream of an egalitarian, truly
pluralistic society, the office of the
Vice Provost for Academic and
Multicultural Affairs yesterday
sponsored a memorial lecture at Hill
Auditorium delivered by keynote
speaker Charles Long.
Long's third visit to Ann Arbor
was to discuss the term
multiculturalism, its implementa-
tion and ramifications and its im-
portance to the realization of King's
dream.
Approximately 150 students, fac-
ulty and area residents came out to
see Long - whose impressive cre-
dentials include a Ph.D. in history
of religions, a post as director of the
Center for Black Studies and pro-
fessor of religious studies at the
University of California, Santa Bar-
bara, a long list of honors including
Fullbright and Guggenheim fellow-
ships and numerous visiting profes-
sorships around the world.
Prof. Ralph Williams, co-chair
of the MLK Planning Committee,
introduced the speaker, citing
Long's background in religious
studies as appropriate for the key-
note address.
"The struggle for justice as Dr.
Martin Luther King waged it found
its deepest intellectual and emo-
tional roots, its spiritual resources
and its vocabulary in the Black
churches," Williams said.
He presented a critical discus-
sion of the racial situation and the
types of languages being used in
America now, in efforts to return to
the issues raised by King, Malcolm
X and other Black activists.
Citing the "lack of an authentic
cultural, historical memory" of mi-
norities in the United States as par-
tially culpable for the problems
faced by this generation, Long sug-
gested that "given the cultural, his-
torical background (of the U.S.),
one wonders what notions of com-
munity and nationhood can ever be
achieved under the aegis of even a
democratic power."
"Americans," he continued,
"have always professed the ideol-
ogy of community, but such an ide-
ology was never based upon any
form of impetus; the impetus of the
land, mores, ethos, etc."
Long explored this and other
theories while he was teaching at
the University of Capetown, South
Africa. It was there, Long said, that
he became suspicious of using the
word "multiculturalism" to describe
a new way of being in the United
States.
"America has been from the be-
ginning, at least since Europeans
came here, a multicultural culture;
therefore I'm suspicious when the

Long
notion of 'multicultural' is presenteA
without reference to what has been
the case all the time."
Part of the multiculturalism to
which Long refers is best described
in Benjamin Ringer's work, titled
"We the People and the Other," from
which he read excerpts.
"Throughout colonial conquest,
subjugation and forcible importa-
tion of non-whites, the Europea
has characteristically imposed upoiW
the non-whites a racially segregated
plural societal structure which is
dominated through the raw exercise
of power."
In order to rectify what has been
an imbalanced, racially-based hier-
archy, Long instructed that the new
multiculturalism "must come to
terms with the primordiality of the
original multiculturalism of th
country."
Long proposed that society must
be aware of the formative influ-
ences of American multiculturalism,
which were predominantly white,
anglo-saxon.
Accordingly, Long said, we must
also be determined that "the mean-
ing and practice of multiculturalism
should become more than rhetoric
and more than a slogan.
"It must affect the very notion of
the issues as history of this republic. It
must free the tragedy and truth of this
history," Long continued. "The issue
calls for the possibility of a whole
new range of human expressions."
Koralie Hill, an Engineering
sophomore, said she felt somewhat
enlightened by Long's presentatio
"I think that he brought up a lot o
good points that I hadn't thought of,
for instance talking about the idea
that America was multicultural, has
always been multicultural," Hill said.
"I think it's most important just to
point out (that) fact and make white
people realize that it is indeed
multicultural, and that we just have to
recognize the multitude of different
peoples here."

B-School says diversity is a benefit to business

CEO of Jammin 1i, a
company that
produces a weekly
TV show urges
business to 'bring
everyone into mix'
By KONSTANTINOS KATSIRIS
FOR THE DAILY
As part of its seventh annual Martin
Luther King Jr. Day convocation, the
Business and Finance Diversity Com-
mittee ofthe Business School presented
the lecture "Diversity asa Global Com-
petitive Tool" yesterday at Hill Audi-
torium.
An audience of approximately 350
people, predominately consisting of

school administrators and diversity
committee members, listened to the
keynote speech from Jeffrey Miller,
president and CEO of Jammin II, Inc.,
and host of the weekly television
show, "Transition ."
The program began with a short
performance of the song "Family" by
the Business and Finance choir, and
was followed by a welcoming address
by Farris Womack, executive vicepresi-
dent and chief financial officer of the
University.
"It seems timely and appropriate to
take stock of our problems.... Each
individual must make a difference,"
Womack said.
His speech was followed by a sa-
lute to Martin Luther King Jr. by con-

vocation organizer and Diversity Com-
mittee chair Susan Sherry.
Sherry called King "a hero," "an
uncompromising champion of non-
violence," and Martin Luther King Jr.
Day "a time for rejoicing and reflect-
ing." However, she warned with the
end of the cold war, "We have entered
a potentially more dangerous era of
ethnic and racial conflict."
Sherry's introduction of Jeffrey
Miller sparked an impressive flurry of
applause and Miller surprised the au-
dience by beginning his speech with
clips from the movie, "Network."
The first clips featured a scream-
ing man urging television audiences
to go outside and yell, "I'm mad as
hell, and I'm not going to take this

anymore!"
The next few scenes showed the
same man being told by an ill-humored
bureaucrat, "There is only one system:
the international system of currency."
Miller, closely followed by his cam-
era crew, then took center stage. "(Di-
versity) gets beyond Black, white, His-
panic, lesbian, gay, bisexual ... be-
cause as we move into the 21st century,
we better find a better way to do busi-
ness if we want to compete."
Miller stressed the importance of
societal unity, and noted that, if the
United States is to remain competi-
tive, "We better bring everyone into
the mix." Otherwise, he warned,
America would decline much like En-
gland or the Roman Empire.

African American lesbians
share years of wisdom

Aide to U.S. Rep. Ford
urges student service

'U' alum praises his mother's dedication
to learning in speech about Black family

By SOMA GUPTA
DAILY STAFF REPORTER
On behalf of Congressman Will-
iam Ford(D-Ypsilanti), Omar Wattles,
an aide to Ford, gave the keynote ad-
dress on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to
an auditorium full of representatives
from the College of Engineering yes-
terday afternoon.
Ford was unable to make an ap-
pearance due to weather and travel
difficulties.
Wattles spoke of the legacy of King

resentative numbers of women and
minorities. There are inadequate num-
bers of minority and women role mod-
els among the faculties of these disci-
plines. So we have more work to do."
Wattles added.
Much of the speech focused on the
implementation of the National and
Community Service Act of 1993. Ford
was a key player in the act's passage.
"The program we wrote will put
thousands of idealistic young Ameri-
cans on the street working in estab-
1 .chk01 cnrnnarcrf~nnn....mn.nnr r

By SAM DUDEK
FOR THE DAILY
Describing how education is the
main deterrent against racism, Uni-
versity alum James Comer shared his
childhood experiences and described
how his mother's dedication to learn-
ing influenced his career and life.
Comer, a professor of child psy-
chology and associate dean at Yale
University, spoke to an audience of
200 about his book, "Maggie's Ameri-
can Dream: Life and Times of the
Black Family."
The soft-spoken Comer told the
Power Center audience he was happy

book - and his life as a child, Comer
argued that knowledge is the greatest
solution to today's racial and eco-
nomic problems.
"School was the place we could
make a difference," Coiner said, em-
phasizing how society determines the
success or failure of minority youth.
Because of the endless support
and opportunities he received during
his childhood, Comer said he derived
his determination to improve the lives
of others.
Comer predicted a downhill course
for any nation that fails to strive for
racial equality with regards to educa-

By JUDITH KAFKA
DAILY STAFF REPORTER
"I understand fear and pain, but
we try to live past it."
With these words, Vera Martin
summed up her 70 years as an African
American lesbian struggling with is-
sues of gender, race, sexual orienta-
tion, and now, old age.
Martin and Ruth Ellis, an African
American lesbiantfrom Detriot who
will be 95 this summer, shared stories
from their lives and offered perspec-
tives on current issues yesterday at a
discussion sponsored by the Lesbian
Gay Male Programs Office (LGMPO)
in conjunction with the women's stud-
ies and American culture departments.
The University offices devised the
program to offer an expanded per-
spective in the University's obser-
vance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Both women discussed the diffi-
culty of being homosexual at a time
when there were no formal organiza-
tions and little recognition of lesbi-
ans. "I didn't even know those words
existed," said Ellis, remembering her
childhood.
However, when homosexuality did

Martin

lives despite the constraints.
After talking about their histories,
Martin and Ellis entertained ques4
tions on issues concerning African
Americans, women and homosexuals
in today's society. They stressed the
importance of community support,
and urged the audience members to
become involyed and help one an-
other.

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