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Schiavo Case Speaks to Diversity

UC Riverside Historian to Be Keynote Speaker at National Media Education Conference

Carlos Cortes will relate end-of-life issues in the Schiavo case and the movie “Million Dollar Baby” to the question of diversity in the U.S.

(April 4, 2005)

Carlos CortesEnlarge

Carlos Cortes

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (April 4, 2005) -- What does the Terri Schiavo case have to do with media literacy and diversity? Everything, according to Carlos Cortes, award-winning writer, teacher, public speaker and professor emeritus of history at UC Riverside.

Cortes points out how the Schiavo media blitz has influenced public discussion and action, as well as lawmakers’ discussion of end-of-life issues. It’s a key diversity issue, he says, in terms of age and generational questions, since the Schiavo case turns the tables on the very common situation of comatose elderly people having decisions made for them by their younger children. There are 35,000 people in a persistent vegetative state at any given moment, but they don't make the news, he noted. The Schiavo case also fuses ethnic and religious diversity, because different ethnic groups and religions have different views of death and dying.

A keynote speaker at the National Media Education Conference coming up June 25-28 in San Francisco, Cortes will touch on a range of diversity issues including the relationship between the Schiavo case and the film “Million Dollar Baby.” He will join in a “rambunctious conversation” at the conference with multicultural historian Ronald Takaki of UC Berkeley. The conference is targeted to educators, parents and others interested in increasing the nation’s media literacy.

Cortes is one of the nation's most sought-after diversity speakers because of his ability to help audiences break away from the traditional diversity “silos” such as race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation and to think instead of the intersections between them. He says his career passion is to “improve intergroup understanding.”

The biennial National Media Education Conference ( is sponsored by the Alliance for a Media Literate America. More than 75 conference events, including keynotes, workshops, and preconference seminars, offer professional development opportunities on incorporating media education in the classroom as part of English, Social Studies, Health and other standard subjects. This is the first time it's been held on the West Coast.

This year's theme - "Giving Voice to a Diverse Nation" - explores the role of media literacy education in enabling all individuals in our increasingly diverse society:
-- To participate fully in our information and media-saturated culture;
-- To be accurately represented in and by media; and
-- To acquire the skills, access and opportunities to tell their stories and hear their stories told.

Early discount is available for registrations by May 1. Conference organizers have accommodated tight budgets by obtaining low room rates at a downtown San Francisco hotel that is easily accessible by BART public transit from both the San Francisco and Oakland airports.

Full details are available at

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

A broadcast studio with fiber cable to the AT&T Hollywood hub is available for live or taped interviews. UCR also has ISDN for radio interviews. To learn more, call (951) UCR-NEWS.

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