On Tuesday, January 22, Florida State University welcomed New York Times Op-Ed columnist Charles Blow. The event was held in the Ruby Diamond Concert Hall, as part of the Golden Tribe Lecture Series. More than that, the event was part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Week at the University. The 31st annual celebration commemorated Dr. King. The goal of the week was to reflect on the past. It was meant to challenge individuals to be part of social change.
The event began with a performance by the FSU gospel choir. It was followed by an appearance from University President John Thrasher.
‘’I believe Dr. Kings legacy is alive at Florida State University’’, said Thrasher.
At the event, an administrator and a faculty member were awarded with the Distinguished Service Award. The recipients were Director of College and Pre-College Outreach Thesla Berne-Anderson & Dean Donald J. Weidner.
The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Book stipends were awarded to a group of students to support them on their academic journey. The University finished the recognitions by handing out the Diversity and Inclusion Certificate to faculty who qualified for the credential.
The night continued with the main event. Charles Blow took the stage.
The fearless commentator spoke about the importance of Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy.
With columns in the New York Times and CNN guest appearances, Blow has created his own brand of political commentary. He addressed the importance of King’s ‘’The Other America’’ speech. The speech sheds light on the racial tribalism that exists in America and the link between economic and racial inequality.
Columnist Blow noted that racism has persisted in the country and every leader is guilty of it. ‘’This includes Abraham Lincoln, who expressed in 1858 his opposition to racial equality’’, said Blow.
Racism is alive in the south and in north and in the west. Blow described the different types of racism that exist. He called the South’s racism old and in the DNA. He said it was slow, tired and old.
Meanwhile, he argued that the North’s racism was a teenage boy. He reminded the audience that the ongoing acts of violence are happening in northern and western cities, and not places in the south, like Selma and Greenville.
He continued by stating that racism is not only the racism that is vocal. ‘’Overt racism is only one type, and it is far more applicable’’, exclaimed Blow.
Blow stated that having pity is not the solution. He called incarceration the new Jim Crow, as he explained that there are more people of color incarcerated than there were people of color enslaved. Per Blow, there are about 1.5 million Black men incarcerated.
Blow culminated his speech by saying, ‘’Make America be true, as it is on paper… That all men are created equal.’’