Kevin Powell, political activist and author, challenged the audience to #readstudytravel to expand their worldviews and create change within their communities during the 2018 MLK Lecture last Friday in the Skyline room. Powell was this year’s featured lecturer, sponsored by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, as the culminating event of the MLK week celebrations.
Throughout the lecture, Powell spoke about the importance of understanding history, education and fighting ignorance and violence, as well as continuing the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.
“How are we going to say that we have accomplished great change in America when you see that a lot of behavior that exists around racism and sexism and homophobia and transphobia and ableism and religious hate and classism stems from not just ignorance,” Powell said. “But there’s something that some of us call enthusiastic ignorance, where we’re not just ignorant we’re proud to be ignorant.”
Powell called for people to reconsider those behaviors and actions and to fight against ignorance and misinformation.
According to Powell, people have a responsibility to know basic facts and avoid fake news, no matter their political, religious, or other beliefs.
“Everyone in this room has some sort of prejudice, some sort of bigotry, some sort of fear or stereotypes about other people inside them,” Powell said. “Are you serious about being part of the solution in this country? Or you do want to perpetuate the problems in this country?”
According to Powell, #readstudytravel is one of the ways to break down prejudice and to choose love over hate.
“We don’t read, study, travel and that’s why people are choosing hate instead of love, choosing violence instead of peace and choosing fear instead of compassion,” Powell said. “If we don’t #readstudytravel, we are doomed as a society.”
Megan Moffett, who was visiting Emporia and attended the lecture, agreed with the importance Powell put on #readstudytravel.
“I thought his message was really great, I like that he talked about educating yourself and traveling, reading and learning more about your history and other people,” Moffett said.
Powell also called attention to the ‘I Have A Dream’ speech, using it as a challenge for those in the audience.
“In that same speech, he’s giving us instructions,” Powell said. “Actually do something in the community, for people who need to be loved and reeducated so they’re not participating in hatred, fear, division and violence.”
“It’s made me realize that everything we go through… we always come together to fight for that common goal,” said Calandra Matoushaya, freshman biochemistry major. “By shying away from the situation and trying to act like it doesn’t affect me, or that I don’t know the background, that’s not my history. You’re becoming a bystander in something that could impact so many people’s lives and change everything.”