Celebrated comedian and activist gives colorful commemoration of MLK, Jr.
Kierra Leggett | Editor-in-Chief
Dick Gregory spoke in the McKimmon Center Monday evening, commemorating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Though much of the audience found humor and substance in Gregory’s provocative language and subject matter, others were offended by it. The most vocal in his disappointment was Togbah Wleh, a graduate student.
During the Q& A portion of Monday’s commemoration, Wleh said to Gregory, “The event was a Martin Luther King celebration, not a comedy show. What you’re saying doesn’t pay respect to Dr. King, I think it’s horrible…you missed the point.”
Gregory, 81, responded to Wleh saying in part, “I was with him. He hugged me three weeks before he died and told me ‘They are going to kill me’… I don’t have to come here and tell you who King was or what King did, you can get that from a book.”
A veteran of the United States Army, Gregory began his comedic career in the 1950s performing at comedy clubs in Chicago. Impressed by his skill, Hugh Hefner, creator of the Playboy Empire, hired Gregory to work in his Chicago Playboy Club. This helped the young comedian gain exposure among integrated audiences.
In addition to a thriving comedic career, Gregory devoted much of his time to activism during the 1960s, working alongside Dr. King. As a result of his work with the Movement, Gregory was shot once, and jailed frequently.
He credits these experiences as helping shape his character. “It was the Movement that changed me,” said Gregory. “It made me look into reality.”
For Wleh, Gregory’s contributions to the Movement did not excuse his racy commentary. “It didn’t add up,” said Wleh. “I was looking at people’s reactions…we don’t want that here. You came to speak at a Martin Luther King event, why do you have to diss white people?”
According to Dr. M. Iyailu Moses, former Director of the African American Cultural Center, the clarity of Gregory’s words was contingent on the message that students anticipated. “What you had an opportunity to do, was hear from someone who was very, very actively involved in the Movement,” said Moses. “I think maybe people came thinking that he was going to talk about the Movement, and talk about King specifically…I think his point was more than telling us about King the man, but to talk more about what that whole Movement meant. The message is not let’s go back there and dwell in the past as much as it is using the tools of the past to negotiate the present and future.”
Art Anthony, Treasurer of Urban Affairs and Community Service, also thought that Gregory’s message was not lost upon those familiar with his style and approach. “If you came looking for someone who was going to sit down and read to you a sanitized script, you were coming to the wrong place,” said Anthony. “There is no one more pro-Black than this man right here, he loves Black people. If you perceived it to be disrespectful, you are wrong. Dick Gregory has the upmost respect for [Dr. King].”
Named as one of Comedy Central’s 100 Greatest Stand-Up Comedians of all time, Gregory ran for President of the United States in 1968. His candidacy came as a surprise not just to the Nation, but Gregory himself. “Had I won, I would have asked for a recount,” said Gregory.
Gregory, who thanks the Movement that there is now a Black man in the White House, says the fact that no one has ever mistaken him for President Obama, has dispelled his 81-year-belief, that white people think all Black people look alike.
Though it was this type of gall that left some members of Monday’s audience unimpressed and irate with Gregory, for Dr. Sheila Smith-McKoy, director of the AACC, it made him all the more endearing. “Dick Gregory utilized the same biting political commentary that catapulted him to fame as an activist and comedian,” said Smith-McKoy. “Having walked with King, having bled to call attention to injustice, Gregory continues to advocate for change using humor and challenging his audiences to see the lingering injustices in our country. I learned a great deal from both his speech and from the extreme responses of those who either loved or failed to understand his intention to challenge all of us to become socially and politically aware.”
Despite delivery of a commemoration that was saturated with satire and jest, Gregory ended his speech on a serious note. “I don’t have to hide behind King,” he said. “What I gave you was not no stuff all dressed up…King took on the mightiest country in the World and won.”
*In no particular order
21. A Legacy of Hate
Oct. 17, 2012
In recent years at N.C. State, hate-speech has been found written in the Free Expression Tunnel, revealing that discrimination still exists amongst “diversity,” and our “post-racial society.”
20. Students Question Appropriations at Sit-In
Oct. 26, 2004
200 African-American students participated in a sit-in to protest the decision of Student Senate’s appropriations. Out of the $40,000 awarded to student organizations in appropriations that year, African-American organizations were only given $755.
19. Black Panther Co-Founder Speaks to Students
April 1, 2003
18. Bush: America’s Pimp
April 4, 2007
17. President Obama to Speak on Campus
Sept. 14, 2011
16. Dr. Lawrence Clark Passes Away
Jan. 25, 2012
Known as one of the pioneers of the African-American Cultural Center, Dr. Lawrence M. Clark passed away at the age of 78. He is also considered one of the founding fathers of the Peer Mentor Program, the African American Symposium, and other initiatives which are still a part of the University today.
15. Omega Psi Phi Honors
Feb. 24, 1994
The men of the Kappa Lambda chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. sponsored a celebratory banquet honoring the work of custodians and other University staff members, featuring Dr. Iyailu Moses as guest speaker.
14. Evers’ Killer Gets Convicted
Feb. 10, 1994
13. Dear Technician: Don’t Endorse the Hate
Nov. 2, 2011
Editor-Emeritus (2011-2012) CJ Guion wrote a letter to Technician in response to an editorial entitled “All Speech is Free Speech,” regarding vandalism and hate-speech found in the N.C. State GLBT Center. Guion disagrees with Technician staff, writing that hate speech is never acceptable, despite it being free speech.
12. New Name, New Purpose: Office for Diversity and African-American Affairs Changes Name
Aug. 29, 2008
The Office for Diversity and African-American Affairs experienced a name-change to the Office for Diversity and Inclusion in order to meet the cultural and social needs of students of various backgrounds. Now the Office for Institutional Equity & Diversity aims to foster a successful cultural campus experience for all students.
11. State Loses Leader
March 24, 1994
In 1994, Tony Williamson, the first Editor-in-Chief of the Nubian Message, passed away during his senior year as a result of health complications.
10. Africana Studies Faces an Uncertain Future
Oct. 2, 2003
The Multidisciplinary Studies Department (now the Division of Interdisciplinary Studies) was slated to be abolished, leaving the Africana Studies program without a fixture. The program and its professors would have been split amongst areas of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
9. No Charges in Emmett Till Killing
April 5, 2006
8. African-American Acceptance Rate at Historic Low
Oct. 16, 2013
7. We’re Here to Stay!!!
March 10, 1994
After a trial run period of one year, the Nubian Message was unanimously voted to remain a permanent entity of N.C. State Student Media. In 2013, it celebrates its 21st year of publication.
6. First Black President: No Excuses
Nov. 12, 2008
5. Profiled? Student’s Shoes Laced with Controversy
Feb. 20, 2013
Freshman Justin Morrison accused Campus Police of racial profiling, after they detained him in the Atrium on Feb. 6 because of the $130 sneakers he was wearing.
4. African-American Cultural Center Celebrates 10 Years
Jan. 31, 2001
3. The Demonization of Trayvon Martin
March 28, 2012
Blatant attempts at demonizing Trayvon Martin’s character after his death, many believe, turned the case in George Zimmerman’s favor.
2. System of Injustice?
Sept. 28, 2011
The execution of Troy Davis caused public outrage, prompting discussion amongst students on racism and injustice within the legal system.
1. Pioneering Individuals: Paving the Way from 1956
Oct. 25, 2006
N.C. State commemorated the 50th anniversary of the first African-American undergraduates admitted to the University.
Rappers Like Kendrick Lamar and J.Cole Reclaim the Game
Vernon Holman | Staff Writer
Turn on the radio and you will likely hear music from the same set of artists: French Montana, Juicy J, 2 Chainz, Drake, and Lil Wayne amongst others. Old school lyricist have often commented on how they are frustrated with the fact that the hip-hop genre is dominated by “club songs” and associated only with catchy hooks and hot beats. Many, including old school rappers, feel that lyricists aren’t as respected as they used to be, a fault of the radio, which controls what many people listen to on a day-to-day basis.
Some have argued that the radio is no longer the dominant media outlet and that the Internet is the now the great equalizer. But has it really made a difference? When artist like 2 Chainz, Future, and French Montana seem to be featured on every hit record and MTV names 2 Chainz as the second hottest MC behind Kendrick Lamar, it seems that radio still dominates.
However, despite their radio popularity, numerous features on hit records, and large budgets from huge music corporations, the album sales of these mainstream “radio rappers” are horrible.
2 Chainz’s “Based On A Tru Story” album only sold 16,000 copies in its first week of sales and after that, sales basically stalled. French Montana saw similarly dismal album sales, selling only 56,000 copies in his first week. Future’s “Pluto” sold close to 16,000 units while Juicy J albums had album sales of 64,000. These numbers greatly defy the amount of success one would think these popular rappers would have, considering their features on hit records, music videos, and radio spins.
In an interview in May, French Montana said,“ I don’t make money off CDs. I do shows. I do other things. So that don’t bother me…It don’t concern me because I’ll keep working hard regardless.” In regards to his album sales, rapper 2 Chainz put it simply, “Slow motion is better than no motion.”
Although these artists display a nonchalant attitude in regard to their album sales, sales are critical to longevity and successful careers in the music industry.
In contrast to these radio rappers, serious lyricists who are more concerned with making good solid bars than club bangers, are seeing more than 100,000 units in their first week sales. It seems that independent artists are doing better than radio rappers.
In its first week Kendrick Lamar’s “good kid m.A.A.d city,” debut album, sold over 241,000 copies and has now gone platinum. Toronto rapper Drake, sold more than 600,000 copies of his latest studio album “Nothing Was the Same” in its first week also going platinum. J. Cole’s “Born Sinner” was released with far less promotion compared to other rappers and yet still sold 58,000 copies in its first week. The album is now Gold.
Artists who suffer from even less publicity such as Mac Miller, BIG K.R.I.T, Joey Badass, Chance the Rapper, Odd Future, and Yelawolf have all sold over 40,000 copies in their first week, and have gone on to sell thousands of more copies. Is this a sign that music is coming back lyrically? Or, is it a sign that the Internet allow for a greater appreciation of diversity in hip-hop as to the line in the original legendary Golden Age of Hip Hop? Rapper KRS-One said, “There was always a balance of lyricism and feel good music, but now the industry lacks balance.”
Maybe the balance is coming back.
N.C. State Version of Project Uplift Among Proposed Solutions to Low Acceptance Rate of African-American Students
Kierra Leggett | Editor-in-Chief
High school outreach, campus involvement of African-American students beyond Pan-Afrikan Week and higher student attendance at non-social AASAC events were the three goals proposed at Friday’s Acceptance Rate Action Team meeting toward increasing the acceptance rate of African-American students at N.C. State.
Among those present at the meeting were Tomesha Murray, president of the Minority Association of Pre-Med Students and Busola Ola, president of the Afrikan Student Union.
Though high school outreach was the only proposed goal directly associated with raising the acceptance rate, members of the Acceptance Rate Action Team felt greater involvement and support of student organizations within AASAC would help raise awareness and bring attention to the dismal rates.
Members of the action team suggested that a lack of visual presence of African-American students on campus could be a deterrent for African-American students considering applying or enrolling at the university.
“People only come out for certain [social] things,” said Andrew Thomas, a senior in engineering. “ But, one of my friends sent me a picture from the yard show, and it looked like an HBCU.”
The action team raised concerns that if the African-American acceptance at N.C. State does not improve soon, N.C. State could fare a fate similar to that of the University of California at Los Angeles. The public university currently has more NCAA championships than Black male freshman.
According to a video created by African-American students at the university, the total number of undergraduate and graduate black males enrolled at UCLA in fall 2012 was 660 making African-American males account for 3.3 percent of its male student population. 65 percent of the African-American males enrolled at the university are student athletes. The video provides statistics that of the 2,218 males who enrolled in the fall of 2012, only 48 were African-American.
“We don’t want that to be N.C. State,” said Marshall Anthony, AASAC chair. During the Friday meeting, Anthony was adamant in what he thought a possible solution to the problem could be. “I think AASAC needs to have more involvement with potential incoming freshman,” said Anthony.
Members of the focus team suggested the implementation of N.C. State’s on version of Project Uplift, a summer residential recruitment program hosted by the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs at the University of Chapel Hill. According to the UNC website, the goal of Project Uplift is to “enhance the racial, ethnic and socio-economic diversity of Carolina’s undergraduates.”
Currently the university offers African-American, Native and Hispanic symposiums hosted by the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs to help accepted students acclimate to the campus environment.