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January 15, 2004 - Image 16

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-01-15

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6B - The Michigan Daily - Weekend Iazie - Thursday, January 15, 2004

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By Aliya Chowdhri Daily Arts Writer
n May 17, 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court told the nation that
"separate is not equal" in the landmark case Brown v. Board.
Half a century later, Brown is the theme of the 17th annual
Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Symposium. On Jan. 12, students had
a chance to have "A Conversation with the Brown Sisters" as the sympo-
sium kick-off event, with guests Cheryl and Linda Brown. In an effort to
promote student involvement with diversity on campus, organizers of the
symposium opened the month-long commemoration of MLK events
with a student panel. LSA junior Paul Spurgeon was one of the student
panelists chosen by faculty and staff of the Office of Academic
Multicultural Initiatives. "I wanted to make the connection between
Brown v Board and the University of Michigan affirmative action case.
Too often people misuse the civil rights movement as an excuse to disre-
gard the issue of racism." Spurgeon explains, "The spirit of Brown v.
Board is within the affirmative action case."
Organizers John Lim, an LSA junior, and Shruthi Sriram, an LSA
senior, explain that their vision for the panel discussion was to address the
lack of passion students have now when it comes to the issue of racism.
"Racism was a '60s problem solved by the movement. Students need to
realize that racism is still a problem on and off campus, Lim states.
Spurgeon affirms, "Our generation and culture is sick with this me-ism.
It's sad to say but I think that events like September 11th shake things up,
makes us step back, and allows us to see what's important." Sriram fur-
ther stresses involvement by taking advantage of various community ser-
vice and tutoring opportunities on campus. She also says a contributing
factor to the lack of student empathy is that there is little pressure on stu-
dents to care. "They should offer more classes with community service
involvement," Sriram suggests. She says this would provide students with
extra incentive to get out and confront diversity and racism issues.
Panel discussions are not the only way students are hoping to confront
the issue of diversity. Students have organized a more creative way to
express their hopes and frustrations with diversity through the U-Club
Poetry Slam. The Slam's theme of Brown v. Board will allow students
freedom to exhibit their talents while conveying their thoughts about the
issue of racism. The Slam seeks to entertain with an academic orienta-
tion. With Roger Bonair-Agard as the featured poet for this event, orga-
nizers hope to draw an even larger crowd to celebrate diversity. The
microphone is open to all students on a first-come, first-serve basis. The
first 10 will have a chance to perform their poetic piece, after which they
will each be given a rating. The slam is unique in that it bonds the view-
er with the poet without either of them actually meeting. Through poetry,
these students have a vision to connect and celebrate their differences.

MLK Events Calerni

Monday 1119104Professor, Harva
Michigan Union, 2 p.r

Top: Members of Ann Arbor's Second Baptist Church lead a unity march
on MLK Day 1989.
Middle: In 1988, the Black Student Union pays tribute to MLK with its
speech on the Diag.
Bottom: Students celebrate King's accomplishments in a 1989 Diag rally.
Opposite page: Thousands gather on the Diag to remember King's life in
File Photos

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