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Civil Rights Leader Andrew Young to Speak at M.L.K. Day Commemoration

13 December 2010 No Comment

December 13, 2010
For Immediate Release

For more information: Julie Nichols (801) 863-6795
University Marketing & Communications: Mike Rigert (801) 863-6807
Written by: Matt Reichman (801) 863-6808

Civil rights leader and former United Nations ambassador Andrew Young will deliver the keynote address at Utah Valley University’s 17th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration. The Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient brings a long résumé in human rights advocacy on both sides of the aisle — from King’s own shoulder to the halls of Congress; from the Atlanta mayoral seat to the nation of Namibia.

Young will headline the University’s commemoration, Jan. 12-13, which examines equality issues past and present within artistic and academic presentations from guest lecturers, faculty and students. Young will share his experiences working closely with King as a strategist and negotiator in the non-violent civil rights movements that brought forth the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

“Young was there with him when he was assassinated, and has done much to carry on his work since then,” said commemoration coordinator Julie Nichols, associate professor of the UVU Department of English.

Young was elected to U.S. Congress in 1972, helping sponsor legislation that established the U.S. Institute for Peace. He was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to serve as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations from 1977 to 1979, during which he helped end the white-minority rule in Namibia and Zimbabwe. Young later served as Atlanta’s mayor for nearly a decade, playing an instrumental role in the hosting of the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games.

Young will present his keynote speech as well as a book discussion on his “An Easy Burden” and “Walk in My Shoes” on Thursday, Jan. 13. He will also present awards during the commemoration’s fine arts and awards reception that evening.

UVU faculty and student projects will be featured all day Wednesday, Jan. 12, which kicks off with an address from President Matthew S. Holland. Issues to be tackled include everything from sexism in public schools to popular music messaging to the Greensboro sit-ins. UVU classes were asked to research social justice as it pertained to their field, Nichols said.

“For example, one panel we’re having was pulled together by a professor teaching English 2010; they’re talking about discourse and the rhetoric of social justice,” Nichols said. “It’s not just a faculty conference — we’re very much engaging the students.”

Through such research, King’s message has only gotten stronger and broader since the commemoration was first set in motion through the UVU History & Political Science Department in 1994, she said.

“UVU’s commemoration has grown to become a discussion on human rights on all levels,” Nichols said, noting last year’s panels on Russia and Native Americans. “We’re looking at social justice in many areas; for example, we’ve got one on deaf culture this year.”

The commemoration will also be bookended by two special guests — first, renowned writer and documentarian Lee Mun Wah will present a day’s worth of diversity training discussions on Tuesday, Jan. 11, at the end of which he will also present a screening of his 2003 film “Last Chance for Eden.” Lee Mun Wah’s work has been featured in film festivals, corporate training and even Oprah Winfrey’s television show.

The following week, former T.C. Williams High School football coach Herman Boone will visit UVU. As portrayed in the 2000 Disney film “Remember the Titans,” Boone fought to hold his Titans football team together through the clash of integration in Alexandria, Va. Boone, who is played by Denzel Washington in the film, will speak on campus on Tuesday, Jan. 18. To prepare for his visit, there will be a screening of “Remember the Titans” on campus Friday evening.

All events are free and open to the public. For more information, including a full schedule of events, visit www.uvu.edu/chss/mlk or call Nichols at (801) 863-6795.

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