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Radical student groups at Kennesaw State U. protest black MLK Day speaker

Far-left student groups at Kennesaw State University protested the Martin Luther King Jr. “Legacy Luncheon” keynote speaker back on January 16.

This is because Roderick McLean is the vice president of Lockheed Martin, and “inviting someone who represents the military-industrial complex to a celebration [honoring] MLK’s legacy was disrespectful,” according to Students for Justice in Palestine president Marisol Mendez.

Further, McLean’s presence shows that KSU “does not truly respect MLK [and] the marginalized groups on our campus or our voices,” Mendez told The Sentinel.

Along with SJP, the organizations KSUnited, Young Democratic Socialists of America at KSU, Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America and others joined the demonstration.

On its Facebook event page, KSUnited — which “fights to protect the rights and dignity of all students/faculty/staff in minority groups, against suppression of social justice work of students/faculty/staff” — said that “it may seem honorable” to have McLean, a black engineer and HBCU (historically black college/university) graduate as keynote speaker; however, given his profession, it reflects KSU’s “direct support of war.”

KSUnited’s post also complained about the university “conceding” to pressure from conservatives regarding progressive speakers. In 2015 for example, (communist) keynote speaker Angela Davis‘s speech was “heavily criticized by conservative lawmakers and members of the public,” leading to school officials taking control over future MLK Day events. Previously public, the Legacy Luncheon became private, requiring “registration and tickets.”

Workers World notes that Marc Lamont Hill also has been an MLK Day speaker at KSU.

The group concluded with several demands of KSU administration:

We demand that KSU respect the anti-war legacy of Dr.King and return full control of MLK Week, budget, and choice of speaker to students from marginalized communities so that MLK week can again reflect Dr. King’s philosophy. We demand the event again be open and accessible to the public and KSU students, being that Atlanta is the home of Dr. King. …

We demand KSU keep its promise of implementing an anti-racist education center with experts on Black history and racism; whose expertise could have been sought out to prevent this situation from occurring. We believe that marginalized students should have full control over MLK Week, that KSU should cease its suppression of social justice work, and for KSU’s administration to address and take action against the hostile environment on campus through the creation of an anti-racist education center.

The Sentinel reports protesters also held a “die-in” at the Convocation Center, site of the MLK luncheon. Participants had signs on their chests stating “3 percent of US military spending could end world hunger” and “Lockheed Martin supplied weapons for the conflicts in Yemen and Syria.”

And make note: KSUnited says “we must remember” that Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated by the FBI.

Read the Sentinel article and full KSUnited event post.

MORE: MLK Day seminar for white students: ‘How to Embrace Your Inner Racist’

MORE: Bard College celebrates MLK Day with climate change ‘oppression’ artists

IMAGES: Shutterstock.com, The Sentinel screencap

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 18 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.