March 20, 2023

Talks on racism mark King Day

Students concentrate too much on careers and too little on the world around them, a black Pulitzer Prize winning columnist told Bates College students in one of Maine’s Martin Luther King Day observances Monday.

Clarence Page also warned of a “politeness conspiracy,” a self-imposed censorship which he said “is spreading in epidemic proportions on college campuses.”

Page, whose “Urban Beat” columns appear in more than 150 newspapers, told an audience of 300 people at the Lewiston school that the most inquisitive students are freshmen, who are not yet consumed by “careerism.”

Recalling his days as a student in the 1960s, Page said, “You couldn’t shut us up. Now, we have to pull it out of you.

“You are on a college campus. This is the one time you’ll feel so free” to ask hard questions, said Page, who also quoted from the slain civil rights leader during his address.

Bates is the alma mater of Benjamin E. Mays, who became an adviser to King and was president of the school King attended, Morehouse College. Bates canceled classes Monday in observance of the civil rights leader’s birthday.

At the University of Maine, where students returned for Monday’s opening of the spring semester, an afternoon vigil and videotape on King were to be followed by a discussion of racism on the Orono campus Monday night.

Monday morning, Gov. Angus King joined the roughly 800 people attending the 15th annual Martin Luther King Day breakfast in Portland.

On Sunday, Jack Greenberg, a former legal adviser to Martin Luther King, joined a panel discussing affirmative action at the University of Southern Maine.

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