Events planned to celebrate MLK Day

Published: Wednesday, January 14, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 13, 2009 at 11:20 p.m.

During the week leading up to Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the University of Florida's MLK Committee is sponsoring a weeklong celebration to honor the legacy of Dr. King.

The committee kicks off the celebration with a a campus-wide town hall forum on diversity and social justice tonight at 7 at the Reitz Union Grand Ballroom.

The goal of tonight's forum is to bring as many people on campus together to discuss ways the university can improve how it handles diversity, said Anthony Crenshaw, chairman of the MLK Committee.

A lot of people think the civil rights movement is over because of the election of President-elect Barack Obama, said Crenshaw. Obama will become the first African-American president in U.S. history when he is inaugurated on Jan. 20 - coincidentally the day after MLK Jr. Day.

"The civil rights movement is not over for all races," he said. "Obama's election speaks a lot about the progress we've made, but there are a lot of issues still to be worked on to get to the core of Dr. King's vision."

At tonight's forum, there will be a short panel discussion at the beginning of the forum. Edil Torres, a professor in counseling and education at UF, will moderate the panel, Crenshaw said.

Then students will be divided up into small groups, each led by a panel member, and will discuss certain aspects of racial justice and diversity.

A survey online for students to fill out before attending the forum asks questions like, what do diversity and social justice mean to you? The survey also asks how UF excels regarding diversity and social justice and how it can improve.

The forum is not just for people who feel the effects of any problems UF has with diversity, Crenshaw emphasized.

Crenshaw said he wants people who are homophobic or racist to come to the forum as well. These people need to be able to voice their beliefs so that everyone can understand why people believe what they believe, he said.

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