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Martin Luther King events

Jeff Unger, News Bureau
(217) 333-1085


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — This year’s local events celebrating the life and work of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. include a weeklong film festival, a keynote lecture by the creator of the Boondocks cartoon strip, and a daylong training session for teachers to learn about ways to encourage diversity and counter racism. Events run from Jan. 13 through Jan. 27.

Representatives of the cities of Champaign and Urbana as well as the Champaign County Board will participate in an MLK Commemorative Program Jan. 17 (Friday) at the Holiday Inn, 1001 Killarney, Urbana. A reception will follow the program.

The film festival begins Jan. 18 (Saturday) with a showing of "4 Little Girls," a 1997 Spike Lee film about the bombing of an African-American church. The movie will begin at 12:30 p.m. at the Virginia Theater, 203 W. Park Ave., Champaign. A discussion will take place after the free, public event.

On Jan. 20 (Monday), the Campus/Community MLK Symposium Opening will take place from 3 to 6 p.m. at the University YMCA, 1001 S. Wright St., Champaign, and will focus on activities for children and families, including storytelling, dance and roundtable discussions.

Aaron McGruder, the creator of "Boondocks," a comic strip, will deliver the Center for Advanced Study/MillerComm2003 MLK Keynote Lecture Jan. 22 (Wednesday) in Foellinger Auditorium, 709 S. Mathews Ave., Urbana. "Boondocks" centers on a group of African-American city children adjusting to life in white suburbia. The strip made its print debut in 1997 in The Diamondback, the independent student newspaper of the University of Maryland. McGruder’s free, public lecture – "What’s the Color of Funny? Race, Society and Comic Strips" – is to begin at 5 p.m.

The training session, "Diversity and Racism in the Classroom," from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Levis Faculty Center, 919 W. Illinois St., Urbana, will take place Jan. 25 (Saturday). Vernon Burton, a professor of history at Illinois, organized the event, which includes a keynote speech by James W. Loewen, a sociologist and the author of "Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong" and "Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Got Wrong."

Other speakers at training session include Robert Corrada of the University of Denver, who will discuss legal education at Howard University Law School from the 1930s through the 1950s and its implication for teaching and learning about race today; Mary Romero of Arizona State University, who will analyze trends in Latino/a studies emphasizing racism and diversity; and Kelley Wells, Evergreen Valley College, who will talk about teaching diversity as an element of critical thinking.

For more information and a complete list of King events, visit