2/20/2014

Political Analyst Dyson to Kick Off F&M Civil Rights Week

  • Civil Rights March on Washington Protesters gather for the Civil Rights March on Washington in 1963. Franklin & Marshall College's Black Student Union (BSU), plans several events for a campus observance of Civil Rights Week, Feb. 23 through March 1.

By Warren Glynn '15

MSNBC political analyst Michael Eric Dyson will discuss the ongoing struggle for racial equality during a Common Hour talk and campus visit as part of Franklin & Marshall College's second Civil Rights Week.

F&M's Black Student Union (BSU) invited Dyson, an author and a professor of sociology at Georgetown University, to discuss issues of contemporary civil rights, especially in the context of the case of Trayvon Martin, a black teenager from Sanford, Fla., and George Zimmerman, the man who was acquitted of killing Martin under that state's "stand-your-ground" law.  The talk is one of several events planned for Civil Rights Week, which runs Feb. 23 through March 1.

"We hope students think about their civil rights -- everyone's rights -- and learn how we all have to be conscious of how we must be careful those rights aren’t impeded on," said Cayla Young, an F&M junior and president of BSU. "Everyone can be affected by violence, and we all need to know how to take action."

BSU created Civil Rights Week last year as a way of opening a campus discussion about the issues surrounding the Martin case and about civil rights in general. Renowned scholar and activist Cornel West gave a keynote address at Common Hour and visited with students as part of the inaugural week of events.

"Cornel West electrified us into thinking [more about these issues]," Young said. "We hope Dyson also incites us to question our views on race and society.

  • Michael Eric Dyson MSNBC political analyst Michael Eric Dyson 

Dyson, who is slated to speak at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 27, at Mayser Gymnasium, is the author of several books dealing with race relations and subjects ranging from Bill Cosby to Hurricane Katrina to the late rapper Tupac Shakur. His talk at F&M, titled "Today's Struggle for Civil Rights," will focus on the history of civil rights in the United States and ideas about a contemporary, post-racial society.

"Civil Rights Week is about education. We want to show everyone how history connects to the present, and so we can't be ignorant to that history," Young said. "There will be gray spots in our history, but we can't run away or avoid them. We need to study and question them."

Other events planned for Civil Rights Week include:

  • Women’s panel sponsored by the Alice Drum Women's Center, 6 to 7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 24, in Stahr Auditorium.
  • Trayvon Martin Remembrance Ceremony and Soul Foods gathering, 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25, at the Dining Hall.
  • Open Mic Night, 7 to 11 p.m. at Steinman College Center.
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