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Saturday, December 15, 2018

Opinion

University falls short in recognizing MLK


About 50 years ago, a man gave a speech in front of a building in Washington. He wore a black suit with black shoes and his words were commemorated throughout Houston last week. Over the course of a day, Martin Luther King Jr.’s sentiments prompted a march on Washington, remembrance from Alaska to Atlanta and nods from presidents past and present, but the University of Houston seems to have opted out of any significant acknowledgement once again.

St. Thomas held mass in the evening, with a lively enough panel discussion afterwards. The Houston Public Library staged a reenactment of the speech itself. Our local politicians paid their dues. Cities throughout the country were asked to pause and ring their bells in remembrance, and while our campus has one that chimes most days on the hour, you’d have been hard-pressed to know it meant something special.

It’s a little sad. That’s not to say we don’t care at all, but the most heavily populated metropolitan university in the country’s fourth largest city could care a bit more. It wouldn’t hurt.

You’d expect more from an institution sitting directly across from a road named after the man himself. It’s one thing to project yourself as a hub for diversity, but we’ve got to start backing that up.

In Topeka, Kan., Gov. Sam Brownback held hands with a pastor to commemorate school desegregation. In Oklahoma City, nearly 75 people gathered at the Oklahoma History Center. Immigrants and citizens alike communed at New York City’s African Burial Ground National Monument. People from all over did little things worth doing.

Bill Clinton gave a speech. He made the usual lobbies for his party, but he also called on people to “push open those stubborn gates.” Obama talked about how much prettier the nation has looked since “the bad old days of 1963.”

UH has no such gates, and it’s been a long time since 1963. What we are is a little lazy. There are people who opted out due to personal convictions, people who capitalized on their surrounding cities and kids who think they’re too cool to see a point at all. Regardless of their justification, one thing stands true: we have 364 days to figure something out for next year.

Senior staff columnist Bryan Washington is an English junior and may be reached at [email protected]

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