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University of Utah Celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr.

Jan. 10, 2006- “Past or Present? Racism & Oppression in the United States” is the theme for the 2006 Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration at the University of Utah. Festivities begin with the opening of an art exhibit by students EJ Curry and Carlos Perez and the launch of “Sharing the Gift of Literacy” a community service project. New English and Bilingual dictionaries as well as school supplies may be donated to benefit the West High Family Literacy Center.

According to Karen Dace, University of Utah Associate Vice President for Diversity, “This is the 22nd year the University of Utah has celebrated the life of this great American. This year’s theme examines the metamorphosis of racism and oppression, from the time of Dr. King to today.”

Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, well known political commentator and author, will offer the keynote address for this year’s celebration. Dyson offers a critical and much needed reassessment of the social and cultural issues facing America’s black poor. His most recent book, Is Bill Cosby Right? challenges us all to confront the social problems that the civil rights movement failed to solve. Dyson will speak January 11, Wednesday, at Noon in the Olpin Union Ballroom.

The celebration continues on Thursday, January 12 at Noon in the Olpin Union East Ballroom with the thought provoking panel discussion “Legacies of Oppression”. Moderator Mary Ann Villarreal will lead the discussion with panelists Bryan Brayboy on American Indian Mascots; Dolores Delgado Bernal on Immigration, Minutemen & Foreignization of Latina/Latino Americans; Erika George on Overrepresentation of Men of Color on Death Row, and an expert on violence Against LGBT Community & Utah’s Permissive legislation.

The critically acclaimed feature film “Crash” will be screened and an interactive discussion of the themes in the movie will be presented on Friday, January 13 at 7:00 pm in the Marriott Center for Dance Theatre. On Sunday, January 15 at 3:30 pm KUED Channel 7 will broadcast the PBS documentary “Citizen King” followed by a special edition of the public affairs program “Civic Dialogue. Host Ted Capener will talk with Utah community members and survivors of hurricane Katrina about allegations of racial bias during the aftermath of the disaster.

One of the highlights of the celebration will be the Youth Leadership Awards presentation to outstanding students, grades 7-12, from across the State of Utah in special recognition of their dedication to social action, positive change and building bridges among cultures and communities. Nominations were received from 32 high schools and 10 junior high and middle schools. The award will be present on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday, Monday, January 16 at 6:30 pm in Kingsbury Hall. Winners are listed at the end of this release.

Singer Oleta Adams will perform immediately following the awards presentation. Adams draws deeply from her roots in Gospel, while crossing effortlessly into the realms of soul, R&B, urban and popular music. Admission is free with a ticket. Reserved seats are available at the Kingsbury Hall Ticket Office, 1395 East Presidents Circle, University of Utah campus, by calling (801) 581-7100, or online at

And the final event of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration will be an innovative Forum Theatre Exploration presentation of the Film “Crash”. Developed by Brazilian Augusto Boal, Forum Theatre involves an exploration of complex social issues through the deceptively simple lens of a story. The performance will be on Tuesday, January 17 at 7:00 pm at Union East Ballroom.

Youth Leadership Award winners are as follows:

Justin Arthur
Murray High School, Murray

Jacinda Bachus
Judge Memorial Catholic High School, Salt Lake City

Jennifer Buchi
West High School, Salt Lake City

Christopher Cooke
Rowland Hall – St. Mark’s School, Salt Lake City

Ayshia Groll
Scott M. Matheson Junior High School, Salt Lake City

Quentin Hodges
Murray High School, Murray

Ashton Larson
Judge Memorial Catholic High School, Salt Lake City

Victoria Morales
Judge Memorial Catholic High School, Salt Lake City

Martha Moreno
Utah County Academy of Sciences, Orem

Kevin Ni S
kyline High School, Salt Lake City

Eboni Page
East High School, Salt Lake City

Tiffaney Palmer
The Waterford School, Salt Lake City

Mary Smith
Bryant Middle School, Salt Lake City

Darby Thomas
East High School, Salt Lake City

Mele Vaisima
Judge Memorial Catholic High School, Salt Lake City

Raya Wall
AMES, the Academy for Math, Engineering & Science, Salt Lake City

Anthony Witkowski
Tooele High School, Tooele

All MLK 2006 events are free and open to the public. For more information and updates, visit or contact the Office of the Associate Vice President for Diversity, University of Utah, at (801) 581-7569 or