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Students walk out of King's abortion speech

Many surprised by event billed as diversity presentation


Kevin Drescher

College Media Network ( - Central Michigan University

  Some students at Alveda King's speech Tuesday night did not expect a strictly literal interpretation of the advertised "life affirming choices" speech.

The niece of Dr. Martin Luther King spoke out strongly against abortion at her "Can the Dream Survive?" presentation in Warriner Hall's Plachta Auditorium. Some students were surprised to learn that was the topic of her lecture. Several of the about 650-person audience walked out.

"I felt a little misled personally," said Flint senior Detrone Turner, who said he thought the speech was going to be about increasing diversity.

Sponsored by The Student Budget Allocation Committee, The Office for Institutional Diversity and Students For Life, King presented a PowerPoint called "Can the Dream Survive If the Kids Are Dead?"

"That whole adding in 'can the dream survive if the kids were dead' was an aspect that I wasn't expecting," Turner said. "It kind of caught me off guard."

Speaking about abortion, King linked the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s to her views on abortion.

She spoke briefly of her father, A.D. King, and her uncle, Martin Luther King Jr., who fought to end segregation in the early 1950s, before segueing into her own family's experience with abortion.

A mother of several children, King admitted she had two abortions herself, but that she was tricked into the procedures. The doctor who performed her first abortion did not tell her that she was pregnant.

"I was pregnant and he didn't tell me. It was illegal. It was not 1973. Roe v. Wade had not passed," she said. "Really, I was pregnant (and) he didn't tell me."

The situation was similar for her second abortion.

"We wanted to bring a speaker who would be able to talk about things that aren't talked about a lot. To bring some issues that we don't hear a lot," said Students For Life president and Muskegon senior Sean Nolan.

"I think (the) mark of success for our event is that a fair number of people got up and left during her talk," he said. "I think it's good that we probably annoyed people, irritated people,"

Turner, who stayed throughout the entire presentation, said he thought the lecture's content was questionable, but enjoyable to watch.

"I felt some of the information could have been a little skewed, but all in all it was good, it was entertaining."

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