Q & A with MLK Day Speaker Arthur McFarlane
Jan. 11, 2010 -- This Thursday, Jan. 14, Arthur McFarlane will be the guest speaker at the all-campus celebration honoring Martin Luther King Jr. The presentation, organized by the Western State College of Colorado (WSC) Black Student Alliance (BSA), will be at 7 p.m. in the Taylor Auditorium.
MLK Day speaker Arthur McFarlane with his great-grandfather, W.E.B. Du Bois, co-founder of the NAACP.
McFarlane will be speaking about his great-grandfather, W.E.B. Du Bois, co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACAP) and the first African-American to graduate with a PhD from Harvard University. McFarlane also will visit classrooms to speak with students.
McFarlane lives in Aurora, Colo., and is a program evaluator for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Luke Mehall, assistant director of public relations and communications at Western, caught up with McFarlane earlier this week. Excerpts from that interview follow:
How has your life been affected as a descendant of W.E.B Du Bois?
The biggest way is that he gave me an example that one person can change the world. He made that clear to me through various ways like founding the NAACP. As a result I am optimistic and not a cynical person.
What are some things you think about as Martin Luther King Day approaches?
I think about things that were going on in society when he was assassinated. On some issues we’ve grown up, but on others we still struggle today. I think about how I see people from the military and how they are thanked for their service in public places. Vietnam Vets were not treated so well when they returned.
What can the audience expect to hear from you on Thursday?
I’ll do a presentation on Du Bois and why he is still relevant today in 2010. I’ll also connect my grandfather’s life to Dr. Martin Luther King’s life. We have just opened up the conversation about race. We still have a lot of work to do. I can use my grandpa’s life as a springboard to larger issues.