Turning a negative into a positive

Seniors (from left) Frank Pandolf-John, Blake Jones, Chuka Chike-Obi and Nick Brooks are interviewed by reporter Michelle Anselmo of KPLR-TV following an Oct. 28 news conference in the Danforth University Center. The students, along with fellow seniors Regis Murayi and Iboro Umana, were denied access to Chicago nightclub Original Mother’s during a senior class trip Oct. 17 while some 200 of their white classmates were let in. At the time of the incident, Original Mother’s management said the six students — all African-Americans — were denied access because their baggy jeans violated the bar’s dress code; the students said the club’s action was racially motivated because a white student with the same jeans was later admitted. The incident received national and international attention as the students reached out to such organizations as the Anti-Defamation League for guidance. In support of the students, Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton wrote a letter to Chicago Mayor Richard Daley asking him to ensure “similar incidents do not occur to future visitors to the City of Chicago.” The news conference was held to announce that the students and the bar had reached an agreement. In addition to a public and private apology, Original Mother’s agreed to participate in a rally against discrimination in late November in Chicago, provide diversity and sensitivity training to its managers, and hold fund-raisers to fight racial discrimination.