Contact: Susan Klopfer
Sounds like University of Texas needs lessons in multiculturalism, a civil rights author says.
The revelation that a 55-year-old dormitory at the University of Texas is named for a leader of the Ku Klux Klan has prompted questions about whether the university has done enough to confront its racial history -- and has prompted comments as well from Susan Klopfer, author of "Who Killed Emmett Till?"
UT officials, in their defense, say the school has sponsored an annual symposium for years honoring the first black student at the School of Law. Officials says the school has placed statues of important minority figures in prominent locations on campus. It named a dormitory for a longtime black staff member.
But the school's civil rights efforts are not enough, says multicultural author and consultant, Susan Klopfer.
"Celebrating a holiday or putting up statues isn't the same as understanding the root history that causes cultural problems in the first place," said the midwestern author of a book that delves into the history of the murder of a young black school boy in the Mississippi Delta in 1955. Till's lynching is said to be a spark igniting the modern civil rights movement.
"Teaching true history -- not the white-washed stories told that maintain the white culture's dominance -- needs to happen in most universities, including UT.
"Until truth-telling becomes a part of an ongoing multicultural process, these kinds of incidents will continue over and over, and students will continue to have problems understanding each other," Klopfer said.
"No school can afford to put out students into the world who are culturally ignorant. UT and other universities are going to have to make changes if they want to prepare their students to compete in today's market place. Training them to be culturally sensitive is the first step," Klopfer said.
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