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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Civil Rights activist talk launches month’s events

    With the United States’ first black president entering his second month in office, this year’s Black History Month is more significant than ever.

    In an effort to recognize that, many UA organizations have collaborated to bring a Civil Rights Movement activist who worked with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, to the UA.

    Dr. Bernard LaFayette, Jr. will be speaking at the Gallagher Theater in the Student Union Memorial Center on Feb. 3 from 7 to 9 p.m., as a part of the UA’s Black History Month kick-off.

    “”He brings just a tremendous wealth of background and experience and stories to draw upon,”” said Ann Yellott, a coordinator for Culture of Peace Alliance.

    According to a press release about the event, LaFayette will be speaking about the “”significant role that students play in social movements, such as the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S. and the struggle to end apartheid in South Africa.””

    “”We wanted to bring a speaker to campus as a keynote for Black History Month who could speak to several different issues in history of African-American people in this country,”” said Bruce Smith, director of African-American Student Affairs. “”We figured he would be the perfect person to come to campus to speak about those issues.””

    While LaFayette is in town, he will be leading a non-violence leadership training session on Feb. 5 from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., along with Jonathan Lewis, national director of Nonviolence Direct Action Training for the Gathering of Justice.

    Yellott said that 150 middle school, high school and college students would be participating in the training session, which will be held in the Grand Ballroom of the SUMC.

    “”He wants to see something that’s actually going to do something to lead to the future,”” Yellott said.

    Brianne Richmond, a Women’s Resource Center intern and family studies and human development senior, said that she plans to miss class so that she can attend the training.

    “”I think it’s going to be an awesome training,”” she said, “”And from what I hear, he’s an amazing man. So I’m really excited to be a part of that.””

    Smith said that the AASA has a strong connection with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s message – they even operate in a building that bears his name.

    “”(LaFayette worked) closely with Martin Luther King, Jr. and the struggle for civil rights in the 50s and the 60s,”” Smith said. “”(The) connection with Dr. King is very important to us.””

    He said that the Civil Rights Movement represented more than just people “”fighting for people who looked like them;”” rather, they were “”fighting for humanity.””

    Smith said that while the election of Barack Obama is an important step in race relations, it does not represent the end of racism.

    “”Racism is (not) over. For me, it’s not that,”” Smith said. “”It’s about the next step, the next step in our country’s progression, our society’s progression toward unifying all of us.””

    Richmond said that there has, however, been a definite change in how people both view and think about race in America.

    “”People are more aware and conscious these days,”” Richmond said. “”I feel like when they’re passionate about something, they come out in stronger numbers.””

    The event is being sponsored by COPA, the UA’s Center for Student Involvement & Leadership, Parents and Family Association, the Associated Students of the University of Arizona Women’s Resource Center and African American Student Affairs, and will focus on the role that students have played in race relations.

    Yellott said, “”Students have played a major role in creating social change in many different places.””

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