While the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. is often thought of only in terms of the civil rights movement, a panel at the Law School attempted yesterday to expand the discussion of King’s teachings to other ethnicities, as well as to issues of class and gender.

The panel, titled “A Dream Deferred: The Intersection of Race, Class and Gender in American Society,” consisted of Law Prof. Deborah Malamud, University of Iowa College of Law Prof. Adrien Wing, and Howard University School of Law Prof. Frank Wu – noted researchers and scholars in their field.

Malamud opened the panel with an overview of the Bush administration’s policy on the University’s use of race in admissions, saying the policy is factually inconsistent, as well as legally problematic. She was especially critical of Texas’s “Ten Percent Plan” which guarantees admission to a state college to all high school students in the state who graduate in the top 10 percent of their graduating class.

“None of the schools have caught up with the proportion of minorities when they were using race-conscious admissions,” Malamud said.

Malamud said proposed percentage plans are flawed because they fail to look at individual applicants holistically and admit people based only on the single criterion of their high school ranking.

Wing spoke about the status of women of color under the law and ways in which the law ignores gender and race. She focused on the current societal status of black women who “are already the bulk of the population of black Americans.”

She also noted that black women were not often given credit during the civil rights movement. “There are so many faceless and nameless women who were in the civil rights struggle,” she said.

While Wing mainly discussed the role of gender in achieving social equality, Wu spoke about extending the discussion of race to include other groups besides whites and blacks, such as Latinos, Asian Americans and the racially mixed.

“How can we understand race in terms that are all inclusive?” he posed to the audience, noting that although the American population has always included many ethnic groups, some have often been excluded in discussions of race.

Wu addressed some of the complexities of the race debate, such as tensions within minority groups. “The challenge for all of us is to ask, ‘What will we do as individuals and institutions?'” Wu said about the effort toward greater racial equality.

Rackham student Mary Ziskin said she thinks Malamud would have talked more about class if she had not commented on the litigation of the University instead.

“Professor Malamud’s comments on the affirmative action cases were really astute and well-timed,” Ziskin said.

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