Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration event on critical race theory


Morgan DouglasSports Editor

The first week of Black History Month at the university featured the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration event discussing critical race theory. 

Retired Superior Court Judge Angela Robinson was the keynote speaker after remarks from several others, including university President Joe Bertolino, who addressed the racially insensitive incident which occurred on campus recently and resulted in the suspension of the Omega Zeta Pi sorority. 

“We will not be discouraged,” Bertolino said. “We will not be silent. We will not give up. We will not yield. Our resolve to be a social justice and anti-racist university will be unwavering, no matter what is thrown our way. We will not stop.” 

The timing of it all is significant, as the university has a whole month of events planned geared toward Black history, making it an opportunity to educate and inform those who are willing to listen. 

“This is the perfect time because this is about learning,” Robinson said. “People come to college to learn. So, you should be able to make mistakes and learn and grow from them, and that’s what this is an opportunity to do.” 

There was a video shown of the Black National Anthem, and a performance of the National Anthem by student Thamar Kalangala, which the audience was quite pleased with. 

The Multicultural Center sponsored the event which was held in the Adanti Student Center ballroom and Director of Multicultural Affairs Dian Brown-Albert delivered the opening and closing remarks. 

President and founder of the West Have Black Coalition Carroll E. Brown introduced the keynote speaker after remarks from Student Government Association President Sarah Gossman. 

Finally, it came time for retired Judge Robinson to speak about critical race theory. Specifically, what it is and what it is not. 

Robinson said, “Critical race theory is an approach and a discipline and a way of looking at problems in our society that advocates that we dismantle racial hierarchy. Not that we reorder it. All races are equal. Any racism is bad.” 

Robinson spoke about how race is a social construct, how racism is structured within society and how a “colorblind” approach is not a solution. 

Communications major Loanis Cabrera, a senior, communications major performed “Rise Up” by Andra Day and received a rousing ovation for the performance. 

Fittingly, Brown-Albert’s closing remarks to follow featured a quote from Dr. King which included the words, “Rise up.” 

“I don’t know if that was done beforehand or not,” Cabrera said, “but I was surprised to see that they kind of tied it into the ending, with “Rise Up.” 

The purpose of the event was to provide a greater understanding of critical race theory as it has become more prevalent recently and identifying its key points. 

“The master’s tool can never be used to destroy the master’s house,” Robinson said. “If you want to dismantle racism, you can’t use racism. You have to create new tools.” 

Robinson hoped the audience learned something because she certainly did. 

“That Southern is a great social justice institution, which I did not know. A hidden gem,” Robinson said. 

As the fight against racism continues, even on campus, its events like this, one which reinforces the values and standards, the university holds itself to. 

“Being a social justice institution at Southern, these types of events are important to bring awareness and advocate for what the school stands for,” Cabrera said. “It came at an essential time, because it shows how relevant these issues are still.” 

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