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Martin Luther King Expertise Available

UCR Students Held King Vigil and Tribute

Jan. 13 event honored the late civil rights leader; scholars available to discuss King, the civil rights movement and contributions of African Americans.

(January 7, 2010)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – As the nation prepares for the 25th observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday this month, University of California, Riverside students held a candlelight vigil and tribute to the late civil rights leader on Wednesday, Jan. 13. The holiday is Monday, Jan. 18.

UCR scholars also are available to discuss the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the status and progress of the civil rights movement, and the contributions of African Americans to American society.

The candlelight vigil was followed by a tribute program in Watkins 1000. The program included poetry readings, a performance by the California State University, San Bernardino Gospel Choir, and local elementary students reading essays they wrote addressing the theme, “What Dr. King Means to Me.”

Members of the Pi Epsilon chapter of the national Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity organized the events. The UCR chapter, established in 2003, sponsors the annual Miss Black & Gold Scholarship Pageant, a Christmas toy drive, and various youth initiatives and educational programs.

Among the UCR scholars who are available for interviews through Black History Month in February are:

Yolanda Moses, professor of anthropology
(951) 827-7741

As president of the American Anthropological Association in the mid-1990s Moses led the effort to develop a traveling exhibit and web site about race, “RACE: Are We So Different?" She is one of eight curators of the project. “The whole idea behind this project is to change the way Americans talk about race,” Moses says. “Our goal is make sure teachers get the information they need to change the way they teach in class, for colleagues and co-workers to be able to talk about race in the workplace, and for parents to be able to talk to their children about a subject that is still taboo in our society.” Among her research interests are the issues of diversity and change in universities and colleges in the United States, India and South Africa.

Carolyn Murray, professor of psychology
(951) 827-5293

Murray initiated ground-breaking research into the stresses on African-American families and the unequal education of minority children. Her research has focused primarily on the detrimental effects of educational inequities experienced by African Americans — low self-esteem, low expectations by teachers and barriers to achievement — and the manner in which these are reflected in academic achievement. The American Psychological Association recognized a study in which Murray found that the absence of a father from the home tended to have a much more negative effect on the self-esteem of adolescent boys than on that of girls. "Although I am not a historian by training, I have found it instructive to examine these phenomena in the historical context of both pre- and post-slavery," Murray says.

Karen Wilson, assistant director, Gluck Fellows Program of the Arts
(951) 827-3518

Wilson specializes in folklore and arts of enslaved communities in the United States. She is a singer-storyteller, scholar and teaching artist who was born in Harlem, New York. She sings music across the spectrum of the African Diaspora in the United States including spirituals, calls, hollers, jazz, blues and rhythm and blues. She collected and premiered “A Tribute To Blueswomen: Beauty and the Blues” with her group Blue Wave — New York. With Blue Wave — West she created and premiered “The Cool Intellectuality of Wise Women's Blues: Ida Cox and Friends.” Her Ph.D. work identified African intellectual and cultural presence in the United States and Caribbean in U.S. history and linked it to world history.

Keith Harris, associate professor of English
(951) 827-1016

Harris’ research focuses on African American visual culture; cinema studies; race, gender and masculinity theory and studies; and performance studies, specifically racial performativity.

Vorris Nunley, assistant professor of English
(951) 827-1927

Prior to 1964 Dr. King's speeches emphasized the need for blacks and whites to work together to achieve equality, Nunley says. Beginning in 1964, however, a more complicated King emerged, a leader who opposed the Vietnam War and challenged notions of what it means to be an American. "This is the more dangerous King, the King who makes us uncomfortable," Nunley says. "He challenges our notions of democracy in more substantial ways." In addition to King's legacy, Nunley can speak about the tradition of African American hush harbors, spheres such as beauty shops, barbershops and women's clubs where congregants could speak freely and obtain knowledge useful in everyday life. Hush harbors may occur within different groups and cultures, from NASCAR and churches to the women's suffrage and civil rights movements. "They produce knowledge in ways that doesn't occur publicly," Nunley says. "To overlook hush harbors is to overlook a substantial part of democracy."

For more information about these and other scholars go to:

Martin Luther King Anniversary

Black History Month

African American Culture

Race in America

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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