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University of Iowa News Release


Jan. 10, 2011

UI presents MLK Celebration of Human Rights Jan. 17-28

The University of Iowa has planned several activities for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration of Human Rights, which runs Monday, Jan. 17 to Friday, Jan. 28.

The opening celebration takes place at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 17, in the Main Lounge of the Iowa Memorial Union (IMU). Judge Odell McGhee II (photo, right), associate judge of the Fifth District of Iowa and the first African-American elected as president of the Iowa Judges Association, will give the keynote speech. Master of ceremonies will be Idris Goodwin, spoken word artist and poet. Entertainment will include a performance by the Langston Hughes Company of Players, a local minority theatrical troupe directed by McGhee that presents the history of African America through music, dance and the written word. The UI gospel choir Voices of Soul, The Quire, UI Breakers, and the Youth United Drill Team will also perform.

This year, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service will focus on hunger and homelessness that affect the Iowa City and Coralville communities. Donations of food and personal items will be accepted at locations on campus to benefit Shelter House and the Crisis Center of Johnson County's food bank. Donations will also be accepted at four local Hy-Vee grocery stores on Jan. 17. For a list of needed items and drop-off locations, see
Michele Norris (photo, bottom left), author and co-host of NPR’s "All Things Considered," will speak on the topic "Say What? The Hidden Conversation about Race" from noon to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 19 in the Prem Sahai Auditorium of the Medical Education and Research Facility (MERF).

In her book, "The Grace of Silence," Norris set out to write a book about America’s hidden conversations about race, but she changed course after learning about her own family’s secrets and hidden conversations. She learned about her maternal grandmother’s short career as a traveling “Aunt Jemima,” which always embarrassed her mother. She also found that her father was shot in the leg by white police officers in Birmingham, Ala. shortly after returning from his military service in World War II. See for more information about Norris and her book.

The MLK Celebration of Human Rights is sponsored by the UI Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration of Human Rights Planning Committee. During the celebration, faculty, staff, students and community members will give lectures, discussions and cultural arts presentations presented by a wide range of campus and community organizations.

All events are free and open to the public. Selected activities scheduled at the UI campus are listed below. For a more information and a complete listing of all Human Rights Week events, visit

Tuesday, Jan. 18:
-- Dennis Shields, chancellor of University of Wisconsin-Platteville and former dean of admissions at the University of Michigan College of Law, will discuss the U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld Michigan’s use of racial preferences in its law school admissions. 3 p.m., Boyd Law Building.

Wednesday, Jan. 19:
-- Brown Bag Lunch, "Tuskegee Airmen" film screening and discussion, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Room 2390, University Capitol Center (UCC).

--Panel presentation, UI Center for Human Rights' Kenneth J. Cmiel Funded Human Rights Internship Program, 2:30 to 4 p.m., 1117 UCC.

--Community of Color, community-building event for new and returning students, 4 to 6 p.m. Van Oel Multipurpose Room, Currier Hall.

-- Film screening and discussion: “Pushing the Elephant,” which chronicles the story of Rose Mapendo, who in 1998 was separated from her young daughter, Nangabire, during ethnic conflict that arose in the Democratic Republic of Congo; 7 to 9 p.m. Iowa City Public Library, Meeting Room A

Thursday, Jan. 20:
--Blood drive, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., UI Hospitals and Clinics, John Pappajohn Pavillion Lobby, near Elevator I on level 1.

Friday, Jan. 21:
--UI Health Care Human Rights Week Diversity Resources Fair, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., UI Hospitals and Clinics, 8th Floor East Room.

--Lecture on the Infant Oral Health Program by Dr. Karin Weber-Gasparoni, founder and director of the UI Department of Pediatric Dentistry, presented by the Johnson County Department of Public Health and UI College of Dentistry, noon to 1 p.m., Oral B Seminar Room (N212), Dental Science Building.

--Panel presentation, UI Center for Human Rights' Kenneth J. Cmiel Funded Human Rights Internship Program, College of Medicine, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., MERF.

--College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Distinguished Lecture "'How Long? Not Long:' Reminiscences of a Mathematician at Iowa" by Eugene Madison, professor emeritus in the Department of Mathematics, 3:30-5:30 p.m., 2217 Seamans Center.

Tuesday, Jan. 25:
--“Fierce Conversations," a dialogue on diversity issues on campus, 5:30 to 7 p.m., Women's Resource and Action Center.

--Lecture and discussion by Ki-hyun Kim from the Department of Rehabilitation and Counselor Education, 6:30 p.m., Asian Pacific American Cultural Center.

Wednesday, Jan. 26:
--"What about the Women?" an event to engage and educate participants on the various feminist waves and movements, 6 p.m., Asian Pacific American Cultural Center.

Thursday, Jan. 27:
-- "Food for Thought: Is the Dream Still Alive," a dinner and a discussion forum focusing on the famous Martin Luther King, Jr. “I Have a Dream” speech and how college students are currently upholding that dream today, 6 to 8 p.m., Afro American Cultural Center (Afro House), 303 Melrose Ave.

Friday, Jan. 28:
--Martin Luther King, Jr. Research Symposium, noon to 2:30 p.m. N300 Lindquist Center, Jones Commons.

Recognition of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthdate has been a tradition at UI since 1969, and the national holiday has been observed through human rights programs since its inception in 1986. In 1990 the UI initiated the Human Rights convocation program. Afternoon classes were cancelled to encourage student, faculty and staff participation in programs that encourage dialogue about diversity and reinforce the principle that the University is a forum for the free exchange of ideas. The convocation has been an opportunity for serious thinking by all of us about issues of social justice, human rights and world peace.

An official university holiday was designated in 1995 to provide an opportunity to engage the University community in a discussion of the human values that the King holiday epitomizes. These initial events have grown into a campus-wide celebration that engages faculty, staff, students and community members to give lectures, discussions, and cultural arts presentations.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Katherine Betts, Office of Student Life, 319-335-3059,; George McCrory, University News Services, 319-384-0012,