Published: Jan. 12, 2012

What would King Jr. say to Occupy Wall Street?

Contact(s): Kristen Parker Media Communications office: (517) 353-8942 cell: (517) 980-0709 Kristen.Parker@cabs.msu.edu, Michael Jenkins College of Arts and Letters office: (517) 355-5363 jenki250@cal.msu.edu

EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Occupy Wall Street movement has given social and economic justice the national spotlight, but activists could take some lessons from civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., according to some Michigan State University professors.

As part of MSU's MLK Jr. commemoration, the College of Arts and Letters will sponsor a panel discussion about what OWS might learn from King's examples of justice, nonviolent protest and fight for racial equality. The free public event will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. Jan. 16 in 105 Kedzie Hall.

Panelists include Terrion Williamson, assistant professor, African American literature and cultural studies; Ken Harrow, professor, African literature and cinema; Todd Hedrick, assistant professor of philosophy; and MSU senior Rebecca Farnum, who was recently named a 2012 Marshall Scholar.

Like MLK's civil rights movement, at the center of Occupy Wall Street are issues of class divisions. But the movement has been criticized for perpetuating racially insensitive rhetoric and lacking diversity in its leadership, the panelists said. As such, OWS protestors could be inspired by King's understanding of the significance of race in the United States.

MSU will host a variety of MLK celebration events this weekend through Jan. 16.

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