Universities: MLK at CMU Still Not A-OK, Says Activist | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Universities: MLK at CMU Still Not A-OK, Says Activist

Carnegie Mellon University will once again face the peace-mongering wrath of North Side activist Vincent Eirene on Martin Luther King Day, Mon., Jan. 16. Eirene contends that taking off half a day, as CMU has done for a number of years now, is hardly in the holiday spirit.


He also believes the work CMU's Software Engineering Institute and Robotics Institute do for the Department of Defense's weapons programs, and on behalf of the DoD in aid of various weapons manufacturers, isn't very King-like either.


Eirene says he and his compatriots have been protesting on campus each MLK Day since 1988. On the 60th anniversary of the atomic bomb drop on Hiroshima last year, he poured ashes on the steps of the SEI.


"CMU ... has seen fit not to take the day off, even though more conservative institutions and states have done that," says Eirene, whose noon protest will play some of King's speeches. He plans to publicize MLK's stance against the Vietnam War and the need to apply that position to the Iraq War today.


Eirene has also scheduled a 9 p.m. "concert for peace" at the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern.


CMU spokesperson Teresa Thomas says the university will hold morning classes but an afternoon's worth of MLK programming on Jan. 16. Activities include a "State of Diversity Address" by CMU President Jared L. Cohon, a panel discussion about "King's Dream in the Wake of Katrina's Nightmare," and a keynote address by University of Pittsburgh School of Law Visiting Professor Derrick Bell (who, conveniently, has the day off -- along with the rest of Pitt).


"The decision to hold classes in the morning is due to the university's belief that Martin Luther King Jr. Day creates an opportunity for 'A Day On, Not a Day Off,'" Thomas says, using the motto for campus programming that day.


"The best way to honor Dr. King ... is to actually employ some of what he believed in," Eirene says.  "They have dishonored Dr. King with their [defense] work, so it doesn't matter if they take the day off."


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