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Carnegie Mellon Honors Life and Work of Martin Luther King Jr. Monday, Jan. 16

Noted constitutional law professor Derrick Bell will deliver the keynote address, "Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: Was He a 20th Century Jesus?"
Carnegie Mellon University will honor the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, Jan. 16, with a series of afternoon activities designed to stimulate discussion and reflection on the great civil rights leader's life and work. Classes will be canceled after 12:30 p.m. so all members of the campus community can participate in this important celebration. All events will take place in the University Center.

Carnegie Mellon University President Jared L. Cohon will kick-off the day's events at 12:30 p.m. with his annual address on the state of diversity at Carnegie Mellon. During his speech, President Cohon, chairman of the university's Diversity Advisory Council, will review the progress Carnegie Mellon has made toward increasing diversity across campus.

Following President Cohon's address, students from Carnegie Mellon and local high schools will read narratives revealing their experiences with racial difference and discrimination as part of the university's seventh annual Martin Luther King Jr. Writing Awards ceremony at 1:30 p.m. The awards, sponsored by Carnegie Mellon's Creative Writing Program, present cash prizes to local high school and Carnegie Mellon students who submit poetry or prose about how race has impacted their lives. For a full list of winners, visit

At 2:30 p.m., a panel of civic leaders and members of the Carnegie Mellon community will discuss "King's Dream in the Wake of Katrina's Nightmare" during the Community Conversation. Moderated by Everett Tademy, the university's director of diversity and equal opportunity services, the panel will include Allegheny County Medical Examiner Cyril Wecht, YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh Chief Executive Officer Cecilia Golden, KDKA radio and "On Q" host Chris Moore, University of New Orleans Professor and Black Collegiate Magazine Editor James Perry, and Carnegie Mellon Interfaith Council member John Tyler. At 3:45 p.m., members of the university community will honor King's spirit through song, verse and personal interpretation during the Community Collage.

The day's events will conclude at 5 p.m. with a keynote address by Derrick Bell, one of the nation's most highly respected constitutional law professors and a visiting professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. Bell will discuss "Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: Was He a 20th Century Jesus?"

Bell was the first African American to receive tenure at Harvard University and became the only academic to relinquish such a coveted position to protest Harvard Law School's failure to appoint African American women. He served as dean of the University of Oregon Law School and again resigned when the faculty refused to hire a qualified Asian American woman. He has received six honorary degrees in the last decade and teaches constitutional law at the New York University School of Law. His many honors include being named Teacher of the Year by the Society of American Law Teachers, the Annual Tobriner Memorial Lecturer, and the UC Davis Edward L. Barret Jr. Lecturer on Constitutional Law.

Bell's articles have appeared in the Harvard Law Review, Yale Law Journal, NYU Review of Law and Social Change, the Hastings Law Journal, the UCLA Law Review, the University of Michigan Law Review and Howard University Law Journal. He has appeared on numerous television programs and his work has been featured in a wide range of publications, including the New York Times, Essence, USA Today, Time magazine, People, the Chronicle of Higher Education and the Los Angeles Times.

He has written seven books, including the New York Times best-seller "Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism." His other books include "Afrolantica Legacies," "Gospel Choirs: Psalms of Survival in an Alien Land Called Home," "Confronting Authority: Reflections of an Ardent Protester," "And We Are Not Saved: The Elusive Quest For Racial Justice," "Race, Racism and American Law" and "Constitutional Conflicts."

For more information, including a complete schedule of events, visit

MLK Day Event Schedule at a Glance
12:30-4:30 p.m. Volunteer Service Projects on Campus
12:30-1:30 p.m. State of Diversity at Carnegie Mellon
President Jared L. Cohon
Rangos Ballroom
1:30-2:30 p.m. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Writing Awards
Rangos Ballroom
2:00-2:45 p.m. "The Tree House" puppet show for children
Art Gallery
2:30-3:40 p.m. Community Conversation
McConomy Auditorium
3:45-4:25 p.m. Community Collage
Kirr Commons
4:30-5 p.m. Candlelight Procession
Meet in Purnell Center Lobby
5-6 p.m. Keynote Address and Reception
Law Professor Derrick Bell
Rangos Ballroom

Susie Cribbs
January 11, 2006

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