Marc Lamont Hill, television personality and Morehouse College professor spoke to a full audience at Hoff Theater about his perspective on race, the 2016 election and America during president Barack Obama’s time in office Nov. 2.
Leadership & Community Service-Learning (LCSL) hosted the lecture as part of their Voices of Social Change program series.
Hill recalled the excitement he and many others felt after Obama’s first presidential win in 2008.
“Eight years ago we were rushing to pat ourselves on the back when we elected Barack Obama to be president of the United States,” Hill said. “We were proud of ourselves.”
President Obama was voted our first black president of the United States in November 2008, 145 years after the Emancipation Proclamation and 43 years after the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits voter racial discrimination.
After Obama’s inauguration, Hill said America believed that the work for freedom and change was done.
“We were so excited about Barack Obama, that we’ve allowed the symbolic to become the substitute,” Hill said.
Hill also talked about the dangers of leaving the expectations for democracy and liberty up to one person in power and how it leads to disappointment.
Instead, Hill advised the audience to ask themselves, “What do we do the day after to make the world more free?”
UMD alumni Funke Adeniji said she was surprised that Hill used the recent Flint, Michigan water crisis to place race and environmental issues into one statement about the correlation between the two issues.
“These are two different issues and policies that need members of each group to come to a salutation,” Adeniji said.
Adeniji also said that while she respects Dr. Hill’s views about the two leading presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, she disagrees with his comment that suggested that Clinton has not listened to the poor, but is instead only catering the middle class.
“Clinton has addressed issues such as poverty, whether it was her history of working at the Children’s Defense Fund, and now addressing these issues with her plans to create more affordable housing and challenging homelessness,” Adeniji said.
“I am not advocating for her,” Adeniji said, “but [I’m] providing information about things that she has done and is planning to do. She has clearly addressed poverty.”
Hill encouraged the people in attendance to release their imaginations, act and listen carefully to the minority while allowing them to speak for themselves. He also told the college students to join organizations not for the leadership role, but to help bring change.
“Movement is made by the 10,000 people who stood behind the people in the front,” Hill said.
One person in the audience said Hill inspired him to pursue higher education after hearing him speak at Wesleyan University, five years ago. Christian Hosam, University of Maryland’s Center for American Politics and Citizenship coordinator believes Hill, “put a bug in my ear and put me on the path for my doctoral degree.”