First African American on Indiana Supreme Court, filmmaker highlight celebration of King's legacy

  • Jan. 12, 2015

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Visits by the first African American to serve as an associate justice on the Indiana Supreme Court and an award-winning filmmaker will highlight a week of activities at Indiana University Bloomington celebrating the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy.

Myra Selby, who served on the state's highest court from 1995 to 1999, participated in several landmark decisions involving property taxes, insurance and tort law reform. She will keynote IU Bloomington's 2015 Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration Leadership Breakfast on Monday, Jan. 19.

Bennett Singer, whose credits include the Emmy- and Peabody-winning series "Eyes on the Prize II: With God on Our Side," will speak and answer questions after a Jan. 18 screening of his latest documentary, "The Life of Bayard Rustin," which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and has won more than 20 awards in the United States and abroad.

Other highlights will include a performance, "Justice?: An Emergent Theater Project," the annual Unity Summit, a national case competition, a civil rights immersion trip to Tennessee and several other activities in campus cultural centers.

“Martin Luther King’s efforts profoundly and radically changed what’s possible for all people in this country -- though his work, as recent events in the news have shown, remains unfinished,” said Martin McCrory, vice provost for educational inclusion and diversity and associate vice president for academic support and diversity in the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs. “His legacy is deeply relevant to IU students, faculty and staff, who care about issues of social justice and equality. Last year, we looked back 50 years to the historic March on Washington. This year, we’re looking forward to further growth as a community and as a society.”

"As headline-grabbing stories of racial strife threaten to drown out the countless acts of goodwill among people of different backgrounds that occur quietly every day, it is perhaps more important than ever that we embrace Dr. King’s refusal to, quote, 'accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality,'" IU President Michael A. McRobbie said.

Classes are not held on the King holiday. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to use the day for community service. "A Day On, Not a Day Off," a massive volunteer effort, again will be organized in cooperation with a number of nonprofit agencies, IU and the city of Bloomington.

For example, many IU students -- including 21st Century Scholars -- will be involved in a community service project, "Cover Bloomington," based at the Interfaith Emergency Winter Shelter. Volunteers will work together to set up the shelter, prepare meals and organize clothing in one of four shelter sites. Cover Bloomington brings IU students and community agencies together to benefit those who are less fortunate in the community.

All IU Bloomington events celebrating King's life are free and open to the public, with the exception of the leadership breakfast, which is by invitation only.

The university also will help celebrate the Bloomington community's recognition of King's life at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 19. Singer will be the keynote speaker at that event, which also will feature musical performances from the IU African American Choral Ensemble and the University School Choir. It will take place at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater, 114 E. Kirkwood Ave., and is free and open to the public.
Also on Jan. 19, the IU School of Optometry, in collaboration with the Salvation Army, Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity students, the city of Bloomington and the Bloomington Lions Clubs, will provide eye exams and eyeglasses to members of the Bloomington community who do not have access to vision care. Eligible patients are required to sign up with the Salvation Army before the holiday. The event will begin at 8:30 a.m. at the Atwater Eye Care Center, 744 E. Third St. Call 812-336-4310 for more information.

Myra Selby

Today a partner at the Indianapolis-based law firm Ice Miller, Selby authored more than 100 majority opinions during her time on the Indiana Supreme Court. She also spearheaded efforts by the court to make it more accessible to the public through expanded education and outreach activities.

In 1999, Selby was appointed to chair the Indiana Supreme Court's Commission on Race and Gender Fairness, and she continues to serve as a member today. Before her appointment to the court, she was director of health care policy for the state of Indiana and was responsible for policy development and executing health care programs, including Medicaid managed care, under then Gov. Evan Bayh.

In addition to being the first African American to serve on the Indiana Supreme Court, she also was the first woman to be so appointed. A native of Michigan, she has a Bachelor of Arts from Kalamazoo College and a juris doctorate from the University of Michigan.

Winners of IU's Building Bridges Awards also will be announced at the leadership breakfast and receive special recognition.

Other events:

  • On Friday and Saturday, Jan. 16 and 17, the Kelley School of Business will be the site for the Fourth Annual National Diversity Case Competition, also sponsored by Target Corp. and about 20 other companies. The event, organized by the school's Kelley Student Diversity Council, will involve 32 teams from many top business schools around the country, including the University of Chicago, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Pennsylvania, Washington University in St. Louis and fellow Big Ten schools Purdue, Michigan State, Ohio State and Northwestern universities and the universities of Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota.
  • "Justice?: An Emergent Theater Project Inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King," at 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 18, in Whittenberger Auditorium of the Indiana Memorial Union, 900 E. Seventh St. The project also includes students from Ivy Tech College in Bloomington.
  • Screening of "Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin," followed by a Q&A with Singer, beginning at 8 p.m. Jan. 18 in Whittenberger Auditorium. The film tells the story of Rustin, a leading activist of the early civil rights movement and the chief organizer of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The film focuses on how as a gay man, Rustin also served as a public advocate on behalf of gay and lesbian causes. In addition to being a filmmaker, Singer is former executive editor of Time magazine's education program and is the author of several books, including "Growing Up Gay/Growing Up Lesbian."
  • Screening of five films from the National Endowment for Humanities' "Created Equal Series": "The Loving Story," "Slavery by Another Name," "The Abolitionists," "Freedom Riders" and "Freedom Summer." They begin at 10 a.m. Jan. 19 in the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center Library, 275 N. Jordan Ave.
  • Indiana Memorial Union Board will present free of charge the Academy Award-nominated film, "Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom," at 8:30 p.m. Jan. 19 in Whittenberger Auditorium in the IMU, 900 E. Seventh St.
  • "Public Health Meets Social Justice: Human Existence Cannot Be Silent," a program featuring all forms of creative expression, such as poetry, spoken word, songs and dance. The program is based on a King quote: "Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane." The program, presented by the IU Bloomington School of Public Health, will begin at 7 p.m. Jan. 20 at the First Nations Educational and Cultural Center, 712 E. Eighth St. Submissions must be made by Jan. 13 to
  • Screening of "Palante, Siempre Palante," an award-winning documentary about the Young Lords, who fought for human rights and brought attention to dire conditions in Puerto Rico and among other oppressed people in New York during the 1960s and 1970s. It will begin at 7 p.m. Jan. 22 at La Casa Latino Cultural Center, 715 E. Seventh St.
  • Two groups of IU students will be traveling as part of immersive learning or service learning projects. Students involved with Books & Beyond, a project by the IU Global Village Living-Learning Center, will travel to Newark, N.J., Jan. 15 to 19 to work with middle school students on a joint book project with students in Rwanda. The CommUNITY Education Program is taking students to Nashville and Memphis, Tenn., Jan. 16 to 18. They will visit Fisk University, a historically black university, the Belle Meade Plantation and the National Civil Rights Museum.
  • Michelle Alexander, a highly acclaimed civil rights lawyer, advocate and legal scholar, and author of "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness," will speak at IU Northwest at 2:30 p.m. CST, on Tuesday, Jan. 27. Her talk -- which will be streamed to all IU campuses live from IU Northwest -- is the pinnacle of the campus’s One Book...One Campus...One Community reading initiative, which encourages the campus and greater community to collectively examine issues explored in the chosen book. At IU Bloomington, the campus and community are invited to view the lecture in the Fine Arts Auditorium, Room 102. Doors will open at 3 p.m. EST.

The IU Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs and the MLK Jr. Day Celebration Planning Committee are coordinating many events. They are working closely with the Office of the Provost, Residential Programs and Services, the IU College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Public Health-Bloomington and the IU School of Optometry.

Complete information about all IU Bloomington events is available at a special Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration website.

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