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George Vlahakis
Media Relations

Last modified: Thursday, January 9, 2003

Civil rights leader to be remembered at IU through series of events

Constitutional scholar to present King Day lecture

Patricia J. Williams, a professor of law at Columbia University and a leading constitutional scholar on the rights of minorities and women, will speak at Indiana University Bloomington as the headline event in a busy and diverse campus celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. All of the events celebrating King's life are free.

A recipient of the MacArthur Foundation's "genius" grant, Williams will speak on Jan. 20 at 6 p.m. in IUB's Whittenberger Auditorium.

Williams also has served on the faculties of the University of Wisconsin School of Law, Harvard University's Women's Studies Program, and the City University of New York Law School at Queens College. She has held fellowships at Dartmouth College, the University of California at Irvine, and Stanford University.

Before entering academia, she practiced law as a consumer advocate and deputy city attorney for the City of Los Angeles and as a staff attorney for the Western Center on Law and Poverty. She is a frequent columnist for the nation's most influential newspapers and journals.

Her book, The Alchemy of Race and Rights, was named one of the 25 best books of 1991 by the Voice Literary Supplement and one of the "feminist classics that literally changed women's lives" in Ms. magazine's 20th anniversary edition.

Other events centered around King Day include:

-- "A Day On, Not a Day Off," a massive volunteer effort organized in cooperation with a number of nonprofit agencies and the City of Bloomington, to be held all day on Jan. 20;

-- The King Commission community-wide birthday celebration on Jan. 20 at 7 p.m. at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater, 114 E. Kirkwood Ave. John Stanfield, chair of the African American and African Diaspora Studies Program at IU Bloomington, will be the speaker.

-- An interfaith prayer service on Jan. 20 at 9 a.m. in the Indiana Memorial Union's Whittenberger Auditorium;

-- A poetry slam at the Foster Quadrangle Library on Jan. 16 at 6 p.m.;

-- The IU Libraries Diversity Fair, which will include an all-day film festival at the IU Main Library Media Showing Room on Monday (Jan. 13) and a panel discussion about multicultural education at the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center on Jan. 16 at 7 p.m.;

-- A tour on Jan. 21 of several houses in Bloomington that were used in the Underground Railroad, which delivered many African Americans from slavery. The tour will begin at 6 p.m. at Campus View Apartments;

-- A student re-enactment of 1960s civil rights "freedom rides" on Jan. 23 beginning at 6:45 Teter Quadrangle.

A group of IU Bloomington students will travel on Jan. 18 and 19 to Memphis, Tenn., to visit the National Civil Rights Museum, housed in the Lorraine Motel, where King was assassinated.

"Dr. King's birthday is a celebration of his life and values, but it is more than that," said Gloria Gibson, chair of the IUB campus King Commission and associate vice chancellor of multicultural affairs. "The slogan 'A Day On, Not a Day Off' is very important. MLK Day is a day of learning, commitment and service, and I hope a great many students get involved. The opportunity to hear Patricia Williams is one that should not be missed."

For more information, go on the Web to or contact the Office of Multicultural Affairs at 812-855-9632.