MLK Day Academic Programs

Monday, January 15, 2018                        9–11 a.m.

3rd Floor, Student Center                                                                      LBC credit is approved for this event.

Selected academic programs will be offered that support the MLK Celebration theme of: Live the Legacy: Look Back, Be Present, Move Forward. These academic sessions explore, analyze or inform our understanding of Dr. King's legacy; in particular, how individuals and groups have, or are interpreting and responding to Dr. King's mission to improve the world through equality, peace, and justice. Session content may explore the past, present, or future and address issues, challenges, and successes related to the 2018 theme.

The academic programs will be presented in two sessions. Session one is scheduled from 9–9:50 a.m. and session two goes from 10–10:50 a.m. There will be five programs offered in each session.

Session One: 9–9:50 a.m.                                                                        

The Poor People's Campaign - Renewing the SCLC's Struggle and Why We Need It In Southeast Michigan                                                                                                        


Room 310A

In December 1967, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. introduced a Poor People's Campaign by saying, "The dispossessed of this nation - the poor, both white and Negro - live in a cruelly unjust society. They must organize a revolution against that injustice..." Fifty years later, a new Poor People's Campaign is emerging to mobilize tens of thousands of people to respond anew to Dr. King's call to action. This campaign will involve 40 days of coordinated protests and direct action in Michigan and across the country to demand an end to poverty, racism, militarism, and environmental destruction. The panel will examine both the history of the 1968 Poor People's Campaign and the plans for the 2018 Poor People's Campaign. Panelists are local organizers and leaders who are helping to plan the Michigan branch of the campaign.

  • Krystle DuPree - BSW Candidate at EMU
  • Ijeanette Nelson -Resident Service Coordinator, Carpenter Place Apts., Ypsilanti
  • Ann Rall - Assistant Professor of Social Work, EMU
  • Rev. Joe Summers - Pastor of the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation, Ann Arbor

What They Didn't Want Martin to Talk About: War and Militarism                  

Room 330

In some respects, the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day has become that of "safe" and non-controversial events and speeches. Rarely these days is anything ever said about Dr. King's thoughts and teachings on how "the giant triplets" threatening the human race include not only racism and poverty, but also war, and how these triplets are all interrelated. As often seen in wars, the "other side" is labeled "not like us" (racism) and countries boost military spending, yet cut social programs (poverty). In 1967, when Dr. King gave his famous speech, "Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence," he observed how unpopular speaking against militarism was. In the session, speakers will highlight the speeches and thoughts of Dr. King on militarism, and attempt to show how these teachings relate to the present day.

  • Bob Krewinski - U.S. Navy Veteran                                                                                                                                        
  • Bill Shea - U.S. Marine Corps Veteran

Demands and Demonstrations: The Creation of the Black Student Union on Campus, AND, Truth Be Told: MLK, Jr. took a knee in 1964, Eartha Kitt coined the term "Black Lives Matter" in 1968.                                                                                                



Room 352

Two moderated presentations will discuss the importance of learning about past events and how they impact and are reflected in current events. Rachel Burns will present her research on the formation of the Black Student Union, and argue that the creation of this student organization on campus was a challenge to institutional racism and a major event in the larger timeline of Eastern Michigan University's history of addressing issues of race and diversity. Professor Robin West Smith will discuss how, by understanding the complete history of social movements, one can better relate to the actions of today's movements.

  • Rachel Burns - MA Candidate and Graduate Assistant in Historic Preservation, EMU
  • Robin West Smith - Adjunct Professor of Sociology, EMU
  • Rasheed Atwater (Moderator) - MA Candidate, Social Foundations of Education and Graduate Assistant in Africology and African American Studies, EMU

Roommate Search: People of Color ONLY!                                                                 

Room 320

Since the 1960s, racial and ethnic diversity within higher education institutions has increased, affording students the opportunity to interact with individuals from different backgrounds and experiences. Despite the ability to interact with other cultures, many African American students struggle with becoming acclimated at predominantly white institutions. This has led to higher dropout rates and lower graduation numbers among African American students. This presentation will explore programs and living-learning communities that are in place at Eastern Michigan University for students of color. Presenters will also discuss the importance of having more diverse and inclusive programs on campus, including living situations, that can create a better understanding and acceptance of various student cultures and backgrounds.

  • Akelah Burks - MA Candidate, Higher Education Student Affairs, and President of the Black Graduate Student Association, EMU
  • Naelah Burks - MSW Candidate and Vice President of the Black Graduate Student Association, EMU
  • Jaborius Ball - MA Candidate, Higher Education Student Affairs, and Social Media Chair of the Black Graduate Student Association, EMU

EMU Commission on Diversity & Inclusion: Preliminary Findings Report  

Room 310B

In December 2016, Eastern Michigan University President James Smith created the President's Commission on Diversity and Inclusion. This Commission is the most recent of multiple institution-wide efforts, dating back nearly fifty years, to address EMU's engagement with the challenge of racial equality imprinted on the nation's agenda by the Modern Civil Rights Movement of the 1950's and 1960's. The Co-Chairs of the Commission, Devika Dibya Choudhuri and Ronald Woods, will present the recent Preliminary Recommendations Report prepared for President Smith and the entire University, based on the charge given to the Commission by President Smith.

  • Devika Dibya Choudhuri - Associate Professor, Leadership and Counseling, EMU
  • Ronald Woods - Professor, Africology and African American Studies, EMU

Session Two 10–10:50 a.m.

Cracking the Code: Authentic Conversations about Equity & Inclusion  

Room 310A

The presenter will show selected film clips from the documentary film "Cracking the Code" (2012) and facilitate discussion of the themes in the film and their relevance to the EMU campus today. The presenter will lead a conversation that embraces the understanding that until we are able to acknowledge and examine our past, we cannot be present with each other, and are blocked from moving forward in any meaningful way.

  • Devika Dibya Choudhuri - Associate Professor, Leadership and Counseling, EMU

The Afrocentric Idea: Woke Tool for Black Millennials AND "We gone be alright": Communicating Activism Through Contemporary Freedom Songs          

Room 310B

The impact of social media and high-tech technologies on the contemporary fight for social justice will be explored in two presentations that touch on different aspects of these movements. "Woke Tools" will address the relationships between today's culture of immediacy and its high-tech communication tools and the dangers and possibilities they offer for Black Millennials and the new ipod/ipad Generation Years. "We gone be alright" will explore and explain ways in which freedom songs of the Civil Rights movement can be paralleled with specific contemporary artists and songs, as well as how the accessibility of social media has bypassed traditional gatekeepers in order to share and circulate the songs of lesser-known artists.

  • Crystal Campbell - Lecturer, Communication, Media, and Theatre Arts, EMU
  • Ana Monteiro-Ferreira - Associate Professor, Africology and African American Studies, EMU

Revisiting the Three Evils of Society                                                                               

Room 352

The presentation and discussion will revisit a portion of King's legacy that is often neglected and will focus on his final messages toward freedom. By analyzing King's Three Evils of Society speech, the speaker will highlight the later years and philosophy of his legacy that is often neglected. In his speech, King detailed how racism, materialism, and militarism were destroying the ethical fabric of the country and challenged the nation to institutionalize change to save its morality. This event seeks to honor Dr. King's call for change by revisiting his past and analyzing the current state, then breaking into small groups to discuss how to combat the contemporary evils of society.

  • Rasheed Atwater - MA Candidate, Social Foundations of Education and Graduate Assistant, Africology and African American Studies

The Successful Transition of a Black Man to College                                            

Room 320

MLK said, "The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically." It is of immeasurable social value. The degree also represents dollars earned over a lifetime, especially in the modern market. It can change the economic status of a family in one generation. As a society, we recognize the significance of education and how it positively impacts quality of life. We fund it and we promote it. While all social groups have entered higher education at increasing rates in the last decade, some groups have been and continue to be more likely to graduate. Black men experience unique challenges in the pursuit of a college degree and lower graduation rates suggest the challenges are significant. Nonetheless, many Black men are earning credits and moving forward in their academic careers. This session explores the strengths, practices, and supports of these Black men who have made the transition to college successfully. What do they believe has made the difference for them?

  • Regina George - Director of Pathways for Future Educators, College of Education, EMU
  • Brandon Terrell - MSW Candidate, Social Work, EMU Edward Marable III - Undergraduate Student, EMU
  • Donacel Clemons - Undergraduate Student, EMU
  • D'sjonaun Hockenhull - Undergraduate Student, Washtenaw Community College
  • Dwight Walls II - Undergraduate Student, Schoolcraft Community College

McNair Scholars: New Research for a New Era                                                         

Room 330

Three McNair Scholars will present their projects on (1) the exclusion of data on low-income victims of environmental crime, such as the Flint Water Crisis, from Criminology curricula; (2) challenges faced by trans and intersexual athletes in professional competition; and (3) addressing academic, financial, and emotional problems experienced by veterans seeking a university education. All speakers will address themes that, despite having an unusually severe impact on minority and low-income communities, have been largely ignored both by our government and by general society in the past. All three presentations will discuss the issues, and conclude with recommendations as we move forward into the future.

  • Demarco Johnson - McNair Scholars Student, EMU
  • Victoria Fields - McNair Scholars Student, EMU
  • Anthony Terry - McNair Scholars Student, EMU

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