Black Lives Matter activist speaks at Eastern

Allison Little, Reporter

Black Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesson gave a presentation called “Race in American Politics” in the Dvorak Concert Hall in the Doudna Fine Arts Center on Monday.

He spoke on police violence, activism and the problems with public prisons, but the main theme of the presentation was that many of these problems could be solved by tackling the major issues of poverty and addiction.

Madison Wiedeman, a sophomore majoring in elementary education said that the presentation was inspirational.

“I thought it was kind of like eye-opening to see somebody who’s gone through all of the protests and met the president and is actually trying to make the big things happen,” Wiedeman said. “You don’t ever really hear about the people who are trying to advocate for (racial minorities) you mostly hear the violence caused in that community. It’s kind of nice to see, like, this is what this man is doing to help change all of that.”

Marcus Powell, a junior political science major, said he thought the presentation was impactful because it showed a different side of the issues.

“I felt like he opened a lot of people’s eyes because a lot of people don’t get to see the other side, they don’t get to see what people think and what we feel and what we are going through as a black community,” Powell said. “I feel like he stood up and gave a different outlook on what the black community needs and what different minorities need and I think it was a great presentation.”

Taylor Brownfield, a senior political science major, said she felt that all people could benefit from the presentation. 

“I feel like it raised awareness for all minorities on campus and it wasn’t just for the black community,” Brownfield said. “It was just a great presentation for everyone about the problems we face every day.”

Besides the content of the presentation, students liked McKesson’s delivery and his speaking style.

Wiedeman said McKesson’s speaking style was more casual and made the presentation more relatable.

“I think he talked to us like we were real people and it wasn’t really formal,” Wiedeman said. “The things he said and the words he used were what you would hear from a person on a person-to-person level. It was more impactful that he made it seem like we were on the same level.”

Powell said that seeing McKesson face to face could change the way that people see the problems facing minorities.

“I think it was well-delivered. I feel like it just opened a lot of people’s minds and opened their eyes to a lot of different things,” Powell said. “They don’t get to hear that side of the story they just hear this stuff on the news instead of coming here and seeing him face-to-face and get that feeling that there really needs to be a change, and I think he showed that.”

Brownfield said McKesson’s informal speaking style made it easier for students to be curious.

“I thought his speaking style was much more casual and made people feel more at home like they can open up about questions that they had,” Brownfield said. “It was impactful because in settings like these I feel like students need to feel like they can have that voice and not be so stern to where they can’t open up and be themselves and ask the questions they have.”

Allison Little can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]