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A Broader Perspective of MLK

The chair of the Department of African American Studies at Western Illinois University wants people to gain a broader perspective of civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. F. Erik Brooks will moderate a panel discussion on King Thursday, January 29, 5:00 pm at the WIU Multicultural Center. It’s free and open to the public.

“I think often times we sort of limit King’s work to two speeches – ‘I Have a Dream’ and ‘The Mountaintop Speech,’ the last speech he gave on April 3, 1968,” said Brooks. 

“We want to enlighten people about his life and his work.”

The panelists include:

  • Dr. Mohammad Siddiqi, Professor of English and Journalism at WIU. He has studied Mahatma Gandhi and his principles of non-violence, which influenced King.
  • Dr. Robert Hironimus-Wendt, Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at WIU. King was a sociology major at Morehouse College and Brooks said that might have influenced King’s later work.
  • Dr. Ronald Williams, Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs at WIU. Brooks said Williams was a fraternity brother of King’s so he will talk about King’s college days.
  • Dr. Essie Rutledge, Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Anthropology and former chair of the Department of African American Studies at WIU. She will talk about King’s efforts on behalf of social justice.

Brooks said the discussion will help lead into Black History Month, which begins Sunday, February 1.
“Black History Month is inclusive. It’s for everybody. We’re just highlighting one part of (history),” said Brooks.  He added the same is true of Women’s History Month in March and Hispanic History Month from mid-September to mid-October.

This year’s Black History Month events at WIU include:

  • A special showing of the movie Selma at the Rialto Cinemas in Macomb at 7:00 pm, Monday, February 2.  Tickets are $5.50 for this showing only and can be purchased at the Department of African-American Studies, Morgan Hall 232.  A discussion will be held after the special screening (the film will also be shown throughout the week at the theater – regular prices apply). 
  • A lecture series, Wednesdays at noon during February, at WIU’s Malpass Library.
  • Movie nights, Tuesdays at 7:00 pm during February in Morgan Hall at WIU.  The series will feature documentaries.  Discussions will be held afterward. 
  • A discussion about the “Black Lives Matter” demonstration held at WIU in December.  The discussion is scheduled for Saturday, February 21, 1:00 pm at the Multicultural Center.
  • A discussion about the book The Negro Problem, first published in 1903. “We want to have a robust discussion about some of the things that these intellectuals talked about and how they apply to our contemporary times,” Brooks said.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.