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University of Washington students to place Bruce Lee memorial on campus

The students of the University of Washington want to see a memorial to martial-arts legend Bruce Lee on campus of their University. Lee briefly studied drama and philosophy there in 1960s.

About 20 students from a class on activism are collecting signatures on a petition to honor Lee, who would have been 67 on Tuesday. Lee died in 1973 at age 32 from swelling of the brain.

The students do not have a design for the memorial, but they know what they do not want: a statue of a man in a Kung Fu pose. They hope to memorialize Eastern philosophies and an Asian face in a predominantly white, European culture.

"They talk about these fluffy issues like diversity, but they don't talk about the real issue, which is racism," said Jamil Suleman, a former UW student who facilitates the class.

If a proposal to build a memorial to Lee is presented to the administration, it would be considered, said UW spokesman Norm Arkans, but university officials believe a similar project two years ago addressed similar issues.

Two years ago a group of students was commissioned to create a monument to the struggles faced by minority Americans.

The result was "Blocked Out" - a granite block imprinted with bare footprints on a flagstone path and an ear-shaped wall of stones - which was supposed to remind people that many immigrants and their children were not allowed to participate fully in the country they helped build.

Lee was an American citizen, born in San Francisco but raised in Hong Kong . His father was a Chinese opera singer. He returned to the United States in 1959, because his parents were concerned about their combative son's safety. He got his high school diploma in Seattle and then attended the University of Washington

Lee left school to start a martial arts studio in Seattle and became famous by starring in Kung Fu movies both in the United States and Hong Kong .

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