Wednesday, September 18

Urgent need to halt AIDS crisis emphasized in annual lecture


Dellums calls for African American pride, renewed action

By Michael Falcone

Daily Bruin Contributor

Former Rep. Ron Dellums took center stage Thursday night at an
event that was both a celebration of African American pride and a
call to action.

Dellums, who gave the annual Thurgood Marshall Lecture on Law
and Human Rights, spoke primarily about the growing AIDS pandemic
in Africa and throughout the world.

Though Dellums said he is not an expert on all AIDS-related
issues, he called himself a “loud-mouthed political
activist” who wants to educate the American public about a
global health problem.

“The black plague in Europe cannot touch what’s
happening with HIV and AIDS,” Dellums said.

“This is a global problem that requires a global
response,” he added.

Dellums said that the response should begin with a multi-billion
dollar investment and the assumption of more responsibility on the
part of the United States.

The Marshall lecture was sponsored by individuals and
corporations supportive of the UCLA Center for African American
Studies and held at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Los Angeles.

Chancellor Albert Carnesale, who made brief remarks before
Dellums’ keynote address, noted the progress CAAS has made
since 1969.

Carnesale said that CAAS was succeeding in its mission:
“To develop strong, research teaching and service programs
related to African American Studies.”

Carnesale drew comparisons between Dellums and the
lecture’s namesake.

“Like Mr. Justice Marshall, Ron Dellums is a man of firsts
and a catalyst for change,” Carnesale said.

“(Dellums) proved that you can still be a patriot and
question policies,” he said.

During the lecture, Dellums said even before he won a seat in
the U.S. Congress, he was known as a straight-talking political
maverick. During the 1970 Congressional primary, Dellums drew the
criticism of Vice President Spiro Agnew.

“He called me “˜the most dangerous person ever on the
verge of becoming a member of the U.S. Congress,” Dellums
said.

Though Dellums began his lecture with a number of humorous
anecdotes from his time in Congress, his discussion about the AIDS
pandemic was anything but humorous.

Dellums said that since AIDS was first diagnosed, 11-12 million
Africans have died of the disease, and projections for the future
look equally grim.

“All over Africa we have lost an average of 20 years of
life expectancy,” Dellums said.

“Twenty-three to 25 million more Africans will die in the
first 10 years of the 21st century,” he added.

He said that the epidemic has grown so severe that employers in
Africa now routinely hire three people for the same job because
they know that the first two people are going to die within the
first few months of employment.

Besides AIDS, Dellums spoke about the need to re-address one of
the most debated civil rights issues of the last decade
““ affirmative action.

“If there is a next step in the civil rights movement, it
is that we must frame the debate in 21st-century terms,”
Dellums said.

Dellums did not offer any specific policy solutions beyond
saying that higher education leaders and others should
“change the nature” of how they address the issue of
diversity.

The Marshall lecture marked the midpoint of a busy two days for
CAAS which included a discussion between Dellums and students
earlier Thursday, and a reception and several panel discussions at
the James West Alumni Center Friday. The celebration is in honor of
CAAS’ 30th anniversary.

The celebration will feature some of the center’s former
students, faculty and directors, including CAAS’ original
founder, Robert Singleton, who was also recognized at the
program.

Singleton said that one of the biggest problems he faced when
the center was in its infancy was finding money to fund initial
programs.

“I got no money from the administration,” Singleton
said.

“I didn’t even know what the budget was.”

On Thursday the former Congressman offered some advice he said
was as relevant 30 years ago, when the center opened, as it is
today.

“As a 64-year-old gray-haired guy, I want to say to the
young people, never allow cynicism to prevent you from changing
America.”

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