UTM Civil Rights Conference addresses ongoing struggle for civil rights

UTM hosted the 16th annual Civil Rights Conference Feb. 13-20.

The conference’s theme was Unfinished Business: The Continuing Struggle for Civil Rights in America. During the week, several events and displays were dedicated to the topic, including speeches, movies and art displays. Students and visitors were offered a fully-rounded view of the topic through these displays.

The entire week was packed with remarkable speakers. UTM history professor Dr. David Barber was in charge of organizing the event, and his dedication and constant efforts throughout the year resulted in a successful conference.

The keynote event of the week was Thursday’s speech by Dr. Rev. William Barber II, titled “Unfinished Business and the Continuing Struggle for Civil Rights.” Dr. Rev Barber spoke of the history of the civil rights movement while also addressing present issues. Dr. Barber said that he sees this generation of students as potential change makers in today’s America. Barber also exhorted students to care about each other, to vote and to let one’s voice be heard.

On the topic of education, Barber reminded students to “realize you are not just being educated for your job, you’re getting educated to live your life.”

The conference highlighted all the successes America already achieved, but also shows all the obstacles it yet has to overcome. Several speakers said in their addresses that for the current generation, it is the duty of students, families and all other citizens to fully understand the meaning of the Declaration of Independence and live up to its standards.

Other notable speakers included Florence Roach, an award-winning actress; Dr. Errol Henderson, a researcher and political science professor at Penn State University;  Sheila Pree Bright, a nationally known photographer; Lonnie King, founder of the Atlanta student movement; and Bob Zellner, a civil rights activist.

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