Feb 24, 2009    #019
Contact: Laura Byerley

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Sarah Weddington and community leaders convene at UMKCFortieth annual Robert F. Kennedy Symposium begins March 9

“…All great questions must be raised by great voices, and the greatest voice is the voice of the people – speaking out – in prose, or painting or poetry or music; speaking out – in homes and halls, streets and farms, courts and cafes – let that voice speak and the stillness you hear will be the gratitude of mankind.” – Robert F. Kennedy

At the fortieth annual University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) Robert F. Kennedy Symposium that was created to honor his father, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. will engage the Kansas City community in a discussion about ethics, environmental issues and the politics of mass culture. As the UMKC Student Government Association-sponsored Symposium’s keynote speaker, Kennedy will present “Our Environmental Destiny” from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, March 11 in Room 111 of Royall Hall, 800 E. 52nd St.

Kennedy – chief prosecuting attorney for the Hudson Riverkeeper, president of Waterkeeper Alliance and clinical professor and supervising attorney at Pace University School of Law’s Environmental Litigation Clinic – was named one of Time magazine’s “Heroes for the Planet” for his success in helping Riverkeeper restore the Hudson River. The group's achievement helped create more than 160 Waterkeeper Alliance programs around the world. Kennedy writes about ethical and environmental issues and the political and social content of mass culture.

In recognition of the historical 2008 presidential election, the 2009 Symposium’s theme is “The New American Dream.” Other discussion topics include “Diversity in today’s American dream,” “The upward rise in community progress” and “Some leaders are born women” – a discussion led by Sarah Weddington, an attorney who successfully argued the landmark Roe v. Wade case.

Following is a schedule of other Symposium events:

- 6 to 8 p.m., Monday, March 9 – “Diversity in today’s American dream” Toya Like, an assistant professor in the UMKC Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology; Mary Sanchez, a Kansas City Star columnist; David Greene, interim assistant director and LGBT coordinator at the UMKC Student Life Office; and Brande Pittman, a community organizer, will discuss diversity in today’s American dream. The discussion will take place in Room 106 of the University Center, 5000 Holmes St.

- 6 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, March 10 – “The upward rise in community progress” Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser; Clancy Martin, a professor in the UMKC Department of Philosophy; Stephen Dilks, an assistant professor in the UMKC Department of English; and David Martin, a staff writer at The Pitch will lead this discussion in Room 106 of the University Center, 5000 Holmes St.

- 7 to 9 p.m., Thursday, March 12 – “Some leaders are born women” Sarah Weddington – the attorney who argued the winning side of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court Case, the first woman ever elected to the Texas House of Representatives and former assistant to Jimmy Carter – will speak in Room 106 of the University Center, 5000 Holmes St.

There is no cost to attend Symposium events.

Bridgett Johnson, president of the UMKC Student Government Association said she hopes the Symposium causes people to think about issues surrounding their communities.

“We want people to want to make a difference,” Johnson said. “I really hope that bringing in strong leaders will cause people to talk about issues that affect our community and the global community, as well.”

The Robert F. Kennedy Symposium was designed to honor Robert F. Kennedy, his accomplishments and vision for America. It has been said that Robert F. Kennedy challenged the complacent in American society and sought to bridge the great divides in American life. Inspired by this rich vision, the Symposium's goal is to engage students, faculty, staff, and members of the community in sustained exploration of critical social issues from interdisciplinary perspectives.

Past Symposium speakers include Benjamin Spock, Jesse Jackson, Rod Serling, Ralph Nader, William Neaves, Charles Kuralt, Morris Dees, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole and Erin Brockovich.

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 14,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. Celebrating 75 years, UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a four-part mission: life and health sciences; visual and performing arts; urban issues and education; and a vibrant learning and campus life experience.

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This information is available to people with speech or hearing impairments by calling Relay Missouri at (800) 735-2966 (TT) or (800) 735-2466 (voice).


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