January 18, 2008

MLK activities headlined by women’s rights activist

Loretta J. Ross, a noted black women’s rights activist, will headline the University’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration Week, which begins on Saturday.

Ross, who is author of Beyond the Politics of Inclusion: Women of Color in the Reproductive Rights Movement and the founder of SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective, will speak in Rockefeller Chapel at noon on Monday.

“She’s a very passionate speaker,” said Rosa Yadira Ortiz, assistant director of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and a member of the planning committee. “It was very exciting for us to bring in someone who isn’t focused only on race-related issues but is interested in multifaceted issues, like reproductive rights and women’s rights.”

The talk will be followed by a reception in the Cloister Club of Ida Noyes Hall from 1 to 3 p.m.

Ross will not be the only high-profile speaker during the week. Angela Davis, a former Black Panther, will give the Organization of Black Students’ annual Kent Lecture on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Rockefeller Chapel. Davis, currently a professor at the University of California–Santa Cruz, will speak about the continuing struggle for racial equality in the U.S.

The week of activities in honor of the civil rights leader will kick off Saturday with the University Community Service Center’s Martin Luther King Day of Service. More than 100 students and staff members will volunteer in local organizations. Then on Thursday, a student panel will discuss opportunities for community service in the South Lounge of the Reynolds Club from 3:30 to 5 p.m.

On Tuesday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., a faculty panel will discuss violence and its relationship to injustice in room C25 of the Graduate School of Business. The panelists include Susan Gzesh, senior lecturer and director of the Human Rights Program, Richard Hellie, the Thomas E. Donnelley professor of Russian history, Craig Futterman, clinical professor of law, and Cathy Cohen, professor of political science.

On Friday at 3 p.m., a group of Sudanese refugees will speak in the School of Social Service Administration about their efforts to rebuild their country and their experiences as war orphans.

The event will include the screening of several films about the experience of blacks in the last century. On Monday, Black Is…Black Ain’t, a documentary about homophobia and AIDS in the black community, will be screened at the Hyde Park Arts Center at 5 p.m.

Ortiz said that the location of the screening was part of an attempt to reach out to the broader Hyde Park community and noted that all the events for the week are open to the public. “All the events will have food or refreshment, like we do at the U of C,” she said.

On Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., the film Something the Lord Made, about a white doctor in the Jim Crow-era South who takes on a black assistant, will be shown in Room 001 of the Biological Sciences Learning Center.

The week ends on Friday with “Roots & Rhymes IV: A Multicultural Celebration,” a celebration of music and dance, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in Hutchinson Commons.