Distinguished Speaker Series: Dr. Marc Lamont Hill

By Camille Harrison

“They said we were lazy but they made us slaves, they said we were dirty but had us clean their houses, they said we were uncivilized but we raised their children!” Dr. Marc Lamont Hill yelled to the audience as they applauded in agreement.

This past Monday, about 250 students, faculty members, and other journalists gathered to hear Hill’s lecture on topics ranging from white supremacy to racism to African American advancement. Hill started the lecture expressing his excitement at speaking at HBCUs which led to a range of topics that would make the audience gasp out in disgust or sigh with understanding.  Hill’s lecture is just the first in the Graduate Student Organization and SGA’s Distinguished Speakers Series. Almost every chair was full and there was even an overflow of students that were forced to stand in the back and on the sides of the ballroom.

Hill is a professor, host of BET news and HuffPost Live, former political contributor for FOX, and award-winning journalist. In an interview prior to the lecture, Hill was asked how he felt about Bill O’Reilly’s recent interview on the Daily Show and their discussion on white privilege. “I’m more than devil’s advocate,” he said when called the devil’s advocate in that discussion. “I think I’m right. I’m not just pushing him for pushing him. He’s wrong. But to your point, I think white privilege is something white people don’t want to wrap their minds around.” Honest responses like this were just one of many given throughout the night at the interview and the lecture.

Hill’s lecture started off slow, with the whole audience quietly listening and paying careful attention as not to miss any of the points. He started by introducing himself, giving his background and sharing with us what he wanted to talk about: “leaving this world a little better than we found it.” Hill described the moment as unique and told the audience that so many of the struggles that we face right now hinge upon said moment. 

Hill gave his honest opinion on race, black empowerment, white privilege and other sensitive topics. He talked about the ideals of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. He discussed working at Fox and debating people who made the same jokes, spouted the same facts and same lines every Monday. He remembered thinking that they shared the same ideas, not because they are organized but because they share the same commitment to a set of ideals.

That same concept could be applied to African-American empowerment. While some of Dr King’s dream has been made a reality, Hill recognized that there was still work to be done to fully realize the concepts that King spoke about so many years ago. “It’s a beautiful thing to see the connection between a man who dreams in 63’ and a man who succeeds in 08’ but it’s incomplete,” he said. This statement was made to the sound of a roaring applause.

Point after point and a couple laughs later, Hill finished his lecture to the standing ovation of an audience moved by a lecture they won’t soon forget.

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