Dion Figueroa | Correspondent
As a part of NC State’s 2017 Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration NC State’s African-American Cultural Center invited television personality, author, and journalist Roland Martin to speak at Talley Student Union’s Stewart Theatre. Despite having originally been scheduled for the 9th of January and rescheduled due to the wintry weather around the beginning of the semester, a largely mixed crowd packed Stewart Theater. The crowd in attendance was made up of a large number of Scholars students, as well as normal students on campus, and members of the community including Shaw University’s President Tashni Dubroy.
Martin’s resume is varied with such accomplishments as being the host and managing editor of TVOne’s “NewsOne Now” a daily news show catered to the interests of the Black community. He has also authored three books, is a syndicated columnist for Creators Syndicate, and a senior analyst for the Tom Joyner Morning radio show.
After taking a moment to commemorate the marchers who came out in support of the women’s marches that took place on the previous weekend all throughout the United States, Mr. Martin went right into the main message and theme of his speech, “Looking For a Few 21st Century Revolutionaries.” He started off by saying that “North Carolina is the Alabama of the 21st century,” when speaking about the voter suppression laws that have been passed by the state’s legislature. He continued on reminding not just African American and minority students on campus of these evils, but also the white students and audience members that although minorities are the most impacted that “all students are being prevented from voting,” even the white students.
Throughout the second phase of his speech Martin began to conduct an impromptu history of blacks in America. Martin spoke on the various ways in which slaves, civil rights leaders, and others who are absent from most history books, have paved the way for not just their own rights but for the rights of all people in America.
Martin stated his purpose for the night: to attempt to inspire students to fight for what is right regardless of politics. Continually through the night Martin stressed this point, at one point even beginning to name white activists who fought and died for the civil rights cause in the middle of the 20th century. Commenting on the division between poor rural whites and poor blacks, Martin said, “…if you’re poor and black in North Carolina, and if you’re poor and white in North Carolina, you still have one large thing in common, and that is that at the end of the day you’re still poor in North Carolina.”
In an attempt to emphasize the effects that even the smallest numbers of people had Martin asked approximately a fifth of the audience to stand. He then proceeded to tell the audience that a group of people much smaller than the approximately 50 people who were standing that masterminded and began the Montgomery bus boycotts. He also reminded the audience that the moving force behind the Civil Rights Movement was largely comprised of college-aged Americans, like the majority of the audience members.
The approximately two-hour long event concluded with a Q+A session allowing audience members to ask questions, and seek a dialogue with Mr. Martin.
For more information on Roland Martin he is most active on Twitter and can be found under the Twitter handle @rolandsmartin, his books can be found on Amazon, and any other information can be found on his website rolandsmartin.com. Other upcoming events by, and information about, the African-American Cultural Center can be found on the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity’s website at oied.ncsu.edu.