MLK

Fried chicken, collard greens and cornbread may have been one of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s favorite meals, but apparently serving it alongside a picture of the Civil Rights legend as a homage during Black History Month is “offensive.”

Wright State University this week apologized for a menu “of chicken, mashed potatoes, collard greens and cornbread under a picture of Martin Luther King Jr. and other famous black figures,” WHOI reports.

The Ohio-based public university’s Twitter account confirms as much:

apology

A picture of the menu was also posted on Twitter:

menupic

Wright State is not the only entity to take heat recently for trying to honor MLK by serving up some home-style Southern cuisine.

Last month, an Atlantic City casino was called “seriously racist” after serving fried chicken and collard greens on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, the New York Daily News reports. The casino’s restaurant manager – an African American chef who wanted to honor her hero – was baffled.

“Our general manager of the restaurant is an African-American female who wanted to come up with the menu to celebrate and honor Dr. King,” a casino manager told The Associated Press. “We allow our managers to run their restaurants. She did research and came up with an authentic recipe. It’s very clear these were his favorite foods.”

“The AP noted a 2008 article in Knoxville News Sentinel which quoted a guide leading a tour of King’s childhood home saying that one of the Civil Rights leader’s ‘favorite meal[s] was the Sunday feast of fried chicken, collard greens, black-eyed peas and corn bread,'” the Daily News reported.

As for Wright State, some said they felt the menu – which coincided with a campus panel discussion among active members of today’s civil rights movement – was rude and stereotyped the black community.

“I was really hurt (by the menu). Extremely hurt,” Billy Barabino, a senior organizational leadership major from New Jersey and president of the Black Student Union, told WHOI. “For me, it was a knock in the face for African (and) African- American individuals who have fought for us to be progressive. I was extremely offended by it because it minimizes who we are as people.”

Is it such a crime to try to honor and respect the black community by serving up food traditions?

As a daily newspaper reporter in Southern California for a decade, I often covered annual Juneteenth celebrations, which mark the end of slavery in the United States.

Along with spareribs, beans, macaroni salad and other picnic items – there was plenty of chicken, collard greens and cornbread. None of the families were ever offended by the potluck menu. And it was downright delicious.

Jennifer Kabbany is editor of The College Fix. (@JenniferKabbany)

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IMAGE: Mark Andbinder/Flickr

American University ‘race, privilege and class’ panel slams ‘diversity’ in D.C., white cops

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial stands proudly on the shore of the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C.’s West Potomac Park. It sits roughly three-quarters of a mile from the Washington Monument.

Take a photo at the right angle, and the two structures – the granite obelisk and statue of the civil rights legend – look as if they stand right next to each other.

But an American University associate professor of African American history described this juxtaposition as a “haunting of the continued inequality in Washington, D.C.”

“Now some might perceive that juxtaposition as a symbol of triumph,” said Professor Theresa Runstedtler. “But I want to suggest that it is a representation of a kind of haunting. The haunting of the dreams still deferred, that are encapsulated as much as the victories of monument. A haunting of paths not taken.”

She made the comments Wednesday as part of an American University Table Talk Lunch Series titled “A Study in Black & White: Race, Privilege, and Class in the District of Columbia.”

The three panelists said they agreed that Washington D.C.. is a diverse city, but only in the sense that the white people live on one side, and black people live on the other.

Runstedtler used the representation of the two monuments to show that D.C. is “a tale of two cities.” She said D.C. is racially divided, pointing to a “stereotyped” map of the city that shows a predominantly white population in the western part and a predominantly black population in the eastern part.

She also noted the jobless rate in the city’s Ward 3, “a white-people area,” is only 1.8 percent, while the rate of Ward 8 is 18.6 percent.

“I want to suggest that even though we see white people moving further east, that if you just look at it from the case of population concentration, is this what diversity looks like?” Runstedtler asked.

“There is very little movement between those different spaces. And if we look at it just from an absolute perspective, it is very clear where the dividing line is,” she added.

What’s more, Runstedtler criticized the criminal justice system for its alleged unequal treatment of the African American community.

“Thanks to the criminalization of poor communities of color, we have an astronomical increase in black and brown prisoners over the last 30 years,” Runstedtler said.

The event, hosted by the Kay Spiritual Life Center, aimed to provide a forum for “students to explore contemporary issues of ethical concern,” its description states. “Table Talks brings together the University and wider D.C. communities several times each semester to reflect upon the pressing issues of the twenty-first century.”

Speakers included Runstedtler, as well as Hilary Shelton of the NAACP, and American University lecturer Easten Law.

Shelton, the Washington bureau director of the NAACP, echoed Runstedtler’s sentiments that he believes D.C. is a racially divided town filled with biased white cops, mirroring much of America today. He cited the shootings of unarmed black men by white cops, including the recent case of Michael Brown and the 1999 New York case of Amadou Diallo.

“They are not a new phenomenon,” Shelton said. “Video is the new phenomenon.”

Shelton also slammed Alabama, Arizona and Colorado for using “racial profiling” in their state immigration laws.

“In order for a city police officer to enforce an immigration law, he has to figure out, or she has to figure out indeed what looks like someone who does not have proper papers,” Shelton said. “Think about that for a minute. What does an undocumented immigrant look like?”

“Now you’ve got police officers, most of which don’t even have college degrees, given this new responsibility. You have to go find those ‘illegal immigrants’ and bring them to justice,” Shelton added.

Shelton said the NAACP is pushing for legislation that puts emphasis on “non-deadly” forms of apprehending “suspects.”

He noted that gun-related homicide is the number one killer of African American boys between the ages of 15 and 24, but did not mention that most of those gunmen are also African American.

College Fix reporter Michael Cipriano is a student at American University.

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ILLUSTRATION: Julianne Stanford, for The College Fix

Loyola University Chicago has invited a vocally pro-choice journalist to be the keynote speaker for its Martin Luther King Jr. Day observance, prompting concern and criticism among many Catholics.

Touré Neblett, the controversial co-host of “The Cycle” on MSNBC who thanked God on air for abortion, will headline the Catholic, Jesuit university’s MLK event on Wednesday, and despite some condemnation lobbed at the choice, campus officials stand behind it.

“We welcome and foster an open exchange of ideas and encourage debate and sharing differing views and opinions to advance education,” university spokesman Steve Christensen said in an email to The College Fix. “We believe that discussion around difficult and complex issues results in deeper critical thinking skills and well-rounded citizens. Exploring complex issues with many different perspectives is a mark of strength and vitality and we do not shy away from discussing controversial topics.”

Neblett, who goes by the name “Touré,” was brought to the campus by the university’s Department of Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs. He talk is titled “How Racism Functions Today.”toure

“College campuses are an ideal place to dialogue about complex issues that need to be addressed in a holistic way,” Christensen said. “At Loyola, our students demand such conversation as a way to problem solve and work toward social justice. As the 2015 Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration speaker, Touré will share his perspective based on his personal and professional experiences.”

Touré made headlines in January 2013, the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, when he publicly praised abortion on his television show.

“I knew that pregnant woman and I were not going to be able to form a lasting family,” he said in the closing monologue, referring to his former girlfriend. “She decided it was best to have an abortion and days later she did, we did, and in some ways that choice saved my life.”

“I thank God and country that when I fell into a bad situation, abortion was there to save me and keep me on a path toward building a strong family I have now – and I pray that safety net remains in place,” he closed with.

That is not the only controversial thing he has said on MSNBC. He has also admitted to being an occasional marijuana user and a 9/11 truther, reports Newsbusters.

And The Daily Caller has reported that Touré founded a “militant, anti-white student newspaper” while attending Emory University from 1989 to 1992.

Touré’s invitation to speak has raised concerns about Loyola’s Catholic identity.

The Cardinal Newman Society, a conservative Catholic watchdog site, has reported on the scheduled appearance. And Kathy Schiffer, a Catholic blogger on the multi-faith site Patheos, has called Loyola’s Catholic identity into question over the choice, citing Pope John Paul II’s apostolic constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae, which is supposed to serve as a directive for Catholic universities. An apostolic constitution is the highest decree a Pope can promulgate within the Catholic Church.

“Among the requirements of Ex corde is that ‘any official action or commitment of the university is to be in accord with its Catholic identity,’ ” she writes. “So why, then, is a pro-abortion speaker given a voice on this Catholic campus?”

Loyola has been at the center of a number of controversies in recent years.

The university has hosted an annual drag show for eight consecutive years and thisschool year chartered a pagan student club. In 2010 the school unsuccessfully tried to block Karl Rove from speaking on campus, and in 2013 the university hosted former Obama-administration advisor Van Jones for its MLK Day observance.

College Fix reporter Dominic Lynch is a student at Loyola University Chicago.

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IMAGE: Main, Heather Ault; Inside – university website screenshot

Barack Obama may be the first black president of the United States of America, but his presidency has not solved or eased longstanding racial tensions in this country.

That according to Arizona State University history professor Matthew Whitaker, who said in a speech Friday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that America is at a “fork in the road” regarding social justice and equal rights.

The balance favors those who put Obama in office, he said.

He cited the coalition of the population who elected Obama, and said they are not going to slow down, but will grow in number and influence.

As a result, Whitaker called Obama the “architect of the new America” in regard to the future of politics.

Whitaker’s address, titled “Race and Region in the Age of Obama” launched by recalling Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, which the scholar described as warm, touching and relatable. But he told his audience that it was also meant to challenge imperialism and militarism.

The ASU professor commented that many have a new vision of race relations as a result of Obama’s election, but Whitaker suggested improvement of race relations in America has not been achieved under Obama.

He said African Americans are still not free, but progress and equality in some measure can be seen.

As a historian, Whitaker said that through the Founding Father’s study and readings of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, revolutionary values eluded people of color, women, and the unwanted.

A vision of equality eventually exploded, he said, as a result of these values in 1861 at the start of the Civil War.

After the Civil War, a new kind of resistance to people of color led to what Whitaker described as “virtual slavery” at the turn of the century, to which it would take another century before this began to change.

Professor Whitaker claims that Obama’s election signifies that change in society, calling the electorate an “astringent” because they bring to the surface the imperfections in the American society.

The event was hosted by the University of Arizona Africana Studies Program, in which they described the address as a “provocative discussion” regarding the need for interracial alliances and activism to promote progress in social justice and race relations.

Whitaker is also the author of “Peace Be Still: Modern Black America from World War II to Barack Obama.”

College Fix contributor Katie Jones is a student at the University of Arizona.

Universities around the U.S. held commemorative events on Wednesday, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech.

In addition, numerous students participated in commemorative events in our nation’s capital. Some even camped out overnight on the National Mall, in order to secure a place during the events, according to The Washington Post.

Students at Howard University, a historically-black institution, participated in a march from their campus to the Lincoln Memorial, where King gave his famous speech.

To see images from the day’s events, check out the slideshow at The Washington Post.

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(Image: Library of Congress)

Was Martin Luther King, Jr a conservative? The answer, I think, yes and no. As the face of the 1960’s civil rights movement King argued to advance the causes of organized labor and advocated civil disobedience as a means of resisting racial injustice. Those aren’t things we typically associate with conservatives.

On the other hand, King had no interest in the identity politics that make up so much of the racial politics of liberals today. He argued, most powerfully, for people to be judged by “the content of their character,” not the color of their skin. This argument meshes well with the modern conservatives’ emphasis on individualism and personal responsibility.

At CNN.com, John Blake posts some thoughts on the issue:

As the nation celebrates King’s national holiday Monday, a new battle has erupted over his legacy. Some conservatives are saying it’s time for them to reclaim the legacy of King, whose message of self-help, patriotism and a colorblind America, they say, was “fundamentally conservative.”

But those who marched with King and studied his work say that notion is absurd. The political class that once opposed King, they argue, is now trying to distort his message.

King’s most famous words are the crux of the disagreement.

“He was against all policies based on race,” says Peter Schramm, a conservative historian. “The basis of his attack on segregation was ‘judge us by the content of our character, not by the color of our skin.’ That’s a profound moral argument.”

I think the answer lies partly in understanding that conservatism itself has changed since the 1960’s. The states-rights conservatism of that day has gone extinct in the mainstream Republican and Democratic parties, insofar as the abolishing of segregation via federal power is now universally celebrated. No major figure in either party today would argue to uphold segregation on the basis of state’s rights.

Yet the left has certainly abandoned King’s vision of a color-blind society, where all would be judged (and indeed all would judge themselves) on the basis of character rather than melanin. And it’s hard to imagine King endorsing the modern left-wing policy of perpetual racial quotas as permanent solution to inequality. And it’s impossible to imagine him doing the kind of blatant race-mongering and profiteering that passes for civil rights leadership among those several men who have sought to fill King’s place as the spiritual and political leader of black America. I don’t need to name names.

I don’t think King would fit perfectly today into either mainstream party when it comes to race issues. The fact is, mainstream liberals have moved away from King’s most enduring principle–that we should assess the individual without regard to skin color. Meanwhile, mainstream conservatives have moved toward him in several important areas–realizing once and for all that states’ rights are secondary to natural rights under the U.S. Constitution.

Was Martin Luther King a conservative?

Maybe that’s the wrong question.

A better one would be this: Are today’s conservatives more like King?

The answer is, yes.

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Image Source: U.S. Library of Congress