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Everyone in the crowd looked shocked. The students started to sing the Black National Anthem (gift every voice and sing) but couldn’t make it to the second verse without the help of Google.
The speaker made it clear that we need to adjust our priorities. Our society doesn’t know a song about African Americans who helped pave the way for blacks but knows that Beyoncé is pregnant with twins.
“Black folks couldn’t do what they wanted, our voices were muted in public and when black folks made a freedom song they didn’t call it lift some voices or black voices but every voice,” Dr. Marc Lamont Hill said.
Hill kicked off the Black History Month celebration at Xavier University of Louisiana on Thursday, Feb. 2. Hill, an award winning journalist, professor and CNN contributor who preached to the college students in attendance that they needed to be more aware with the world around them. Hill made it known that African Americans have to be educated while living in this society by doing more.
“Don’t just read fiction but we also have to read nonfiction… don’t just tell me you read Du Bois and you didn’t read no Toni Morrison,” he said.
Hill brought up many issues like the education system, racism and events that has affected the environment such as the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.
“The water was so bad in Flint that the automakers stopped using it in the factories because they said it was rusting out the parts but our babies were drinking it, our children were playing in it and our mothers and fathers were cooking with it,” he said.
Many of America’s problems, according to Hill, continues to reoccur because leaders don’t listen to their constituents.
Blacks always believed in the America dream, even when the white population didn’t see their full potential.
“They say you lazy but make you a slave. They say you dirty but you clean their houses. They say you uncivilized and you’re raising their children,” he said. “They know who you are and one day you will too and then you will be even greater.”
Hill made it clear that Americans must to listen to one another in order to change.
Students connect to Hill’s message
Ms. Xavier, Jasmine Merlette, was one of the students in the room who connected to Hill’s message. His speech encouraged Merlette along with her peers to not become complacent.
Although it was a school night and Merlette has a busy schedule, she thought it was important to attend the event.
“Aside it being Black History Month, we have a duty as black people to our people and part of that is getting enlightened and educated,” she said.
Merlette said Hill’s way of thinking was refreshing and changed the current day narrative around racial upliftment. “Everyone is saying that the system is broken but no the system is perfectly fine, this is what it’s supposed to do but we have to break it,” she said.
Many other students felt the same way about Hill’s message especially freshmen Tyra Johnson, a Mass Communication major.
“He pushed the boundaries,” Johnson said. “He was the voice we needed to hear.”
One of the statements that resonated with her was “don’t think about driving while black, but think about patrolling while racist.”