Communication key to race relations

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Communication key to race relations

"Talking about issues of racial justice is important, but not enough,” said Christopher Edley Jr., who spoke Thursday as part of M.U.’s celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King.

A former presidential adviser, Edley helped develop President Clinton’s “Pro-Affirmative Action Agenda” and is the author of “Not All Black and White: Affirmative Action, Race, and American Values.”

Edley’s speech in Jesse Wrench Auditorium focused on the importance of diversity and communication. He also encouraged listeners to follow the example of King by believing that progress is possible.

Edley said affirmative action is one way to continue the progress started by King and leaders of his generation. Today, Edley said he believes discrimination is often a more unconscious decision.

"Affirmative action helps us lean against that tendency to prefer people like ourselves,” said Edley. However, he stressed that affirmative action does more than discourage discrimination. Diversity leads to excellence, he said. Jacqueline Cooper, an M.U. graduate student, said she agrees with Edley’s message on the difficulties of increasing diversity.

"He said that this process is hard, and there are no easy answers,” Cooper said. “This is going to take a long time.” Rich Carter, who came from Jefferson City to hear the speech, said Edley’s emphasis on educating people about discrimination is important.

“He talked about inclusion,” Carter said. “Don’t leave anyone out, and don’t give up on anyone.” Before Edley’s address, Damon White, president of the Legion of Black Collegians, announced the winners of the 1997 MLK Poster Contest, open to M.U. students. Galia Farber, a senior journalism major, won first place; Lisa Craig, a junior journalism major, won second place; and Rachel Goodlet, a junior journalism major, won third place.

Elizabeth Barton, president of the Missouri Students Association, announced the winners of an essay contest open to high school and middle school students. The first-place essay contest winners were: Antionette Gray, a sophomore at Hickman High School; Josiah Williams, a senior at Rock Bridge High School; and Lauren Hoff, a sixth-grader at Smithton Middle School. Second place winners were: Leslie Touzeau, a sixth-grader at Smithton Middle School; Comrie Harries, a sixth-grader at Smithton Middle School; and Dant Shaifer-Harriman, a senior at Rock Bridge High School.

Gray and Williams also won the oral essay contest.

Related Link: Full text of winning essays


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