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MSNBC Host Spotlights Gender and Racial Issues in MLK Address

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Rochester: MSNBC Host Spotlights Gender and Racial Issues in MLK Address
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The host of MSNBC's current affairs program came to the University of Rochester on Thursday to deliver the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Address. Melissa Harris-Perry got students to look at the role of gender and racial equality on their campus and in the nation.

"This house is a radical redefinition of the experience of minority students on this campus."

Inside the Douglass Leadership House, a dorm built to promote awareness on black culture, an important discussion was taking place.

Students of all backgrounds were discussing racial and gender equality as it exists today.

"Our home lives and our experiences here aren't always in agreement with one another."

Melissa Harris-Perry, an activist and college professor, also hosts a current affairs show. Before delivering the 2013 Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative address Thursday night, she answered some pressing questions.

Perry's speech focused on the women that were critical to Dr. King's success in the civil rights movement.

"It appears that this person came in with one voice and changed the world and that's just not how it happened," said Harris-Perry.

She urged students to think about Dr. King as a real person, maneuvering through his own journey of social equality.

"Martin Luther King Jr. had a pretty bad record on the question of gender equality. Frequently he took women who were capable leaders and told them to stand aside."

She compared our country's progress on the issue of equality to a marathon.

"America is about a 10K on the questions of race. We have clearly accomplished a lot but we have a great deal more to go."

While U of R students say diversity on campus is moving in the right direction, they do see the need for improvement.

"Knowing what it takes to get to that next level and become Ph.D. students, we need more academic support services for students of color," said Nadine Hylton, a student.

"There's still like catcalling on the street, women on campus are still a little but timid to enter certain domain like engineering, sciences, there are as many women professors in those domains," said Sara Lewis, a student.

Perry says while we can learn from King's legacy we need to implement new strategies to deal with the types of inequality we face today.

"Professor Harris-Perry told me that it's okay to stop and be celebratory on the progress that has been made but look forward and have goals of even more progress," Lewis said.

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