Wednesday evening Trinity University hosted Dr. Marc Lamont Hill as the annual MLK Jr. Commemorative Lecture. I greatly admire and appreciate people who are good speakers, and Dr. Hill proved to be one of the best speakers I have ever heard. He was very funny and also very serious and passionate.
Dr. Hill’s lecture was entitled “Leading, Learning and Loving in the Hour of Chaos: Understanding King’s Legacy in the 21st Centry.” Dr. Hill pointed out that MLK, Malcolm X and Che Guevara all died at the age of 39 years. He said that social change is always done by young people. Dr. Hill noted that political activity on college campuses is dwindling. He challenged the Trinity students in the audience to go out in the community to engage with and help people.
Dr. Hill touched upon many other topics in his lecture. He said that America has 1st class jails and 2nd class schools. He noted the large number of poor and /or minority people incarcerated which he attributed in large part to a War on Drugs going on since 1984. Dr. HIll said that democracy needs poeple to ask tough critical questions. But he also noted that there is too much talk in American right now and not enough conversation. Dr. Hill described how Martin Luther King Jr. engaged in “deep listening.” Dr. Hill also noted that older people tend to want to sanitize the past for young people and send the message that the past was perfect. But Dr. Hill said that we need to remember the bad parts and the pain of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life.
Audience questioners at Trinity lectures tend to often try to give their own lectures. But the questions asked of Dr. Hill were very interesting and hit upon a number of diverse topics. Subjects ranged from ethnic studies in Arizona to the Fairness Doctrine to what college students from Africa could do to help their home continent. Someone also asked if President Obama might have a different perspective on racism since he grew up in Hawaii. Dr. Hill answered all of these questions thoughtfully and at length.
Dr. Hill, a professor of English Education at Columbia University, is described as a “hip hop generation intellectual.” He lectures widely and provides political commentary for TV, radio and print media. A widely viewed video on YouTube shows Dr. Hill arguing with Bill O’Reilly on Fox News. Dr. Hill was born in Philadelphia in 1978.