For Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, the fact that Oprah Winfrey owns a television network, that Tyler Perry has a TV show, and that Barack Obama is the president is not enough to make 2016 a post-racial moment in America. Hill was quick to dispel that idea when he spoke last night in front of a large audience in Kresge Auditorium. 

 “I think [a post-racial America] a great narrative, it’s just a fictional narrative,” said Hill. “Chaos cannot be resolved by the fact that one black man is in really nice public housing in D.C.” 

Hill railed against many of what he perceived to be prevailing crises affecting African Americans—from food deserts to poverty to unaddressed, unconscious racism. 

A professor at Morehouse College, Hill was invited to speak as part of the Black History Month speaker series, sponsored by numerous groups including the African American Society, the Africana Studies Department and the Student Center for Multicultural Life.  

Hill’s lecture, entitled, “Fighting for Freedom in an Hour of Chaos,” was devoted to the remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Throughout the lecture, Hill was quick to emphasize that King was an often disliked radical whose life has been romanticized. 

 “Everyone loves King in ’63 when he’s telling negroes to get hit with bricks,” said Hill. “But in ’67 when he said that the same sensibility of pacifism isn’t just negroes getting hit by police, it’s also [about] Vietnam, they told him to stay in a negro preacher’s place.”

 Hill said that King had many reflections and reconsiderations in the year after his 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, including a reflection in 1967 that many Americans may be unconsciously racist.

 Hill, who sat down for a student dinner at Helmreich House earlier in the day, tied in issues that are taking place at the College into his lecture. 

“In the post-racial world, sometimes we’re faced with even more racism, sometimes in the form of exclusionary practices, sometimes in the form of microaggressions, sometimes in the form of tequila parties,” said Hill. 

Hill spent a portion of the speech with advice for activists, explaining that King’s strategy was action through coalition building. Hill lamented that while he visits nearly a hundred campuses per year, most activists are poorly organized. 

“I go to college campuses, there’ll be 50 black people, 25 organizations, everybody is president and vice president,” Hill joked. “The legacy of King is about brave action, which means you can’t always be in charge, where you might not get your way.”

 Carolyn Brady ’19 explained that while she thought Hill was a very well-spoken intellectual, she said she was disappointed that many of the actions and areas of progress that he spoke to are not taking place on Bowdoin’s campus. 

“He is incredibly informed on the issue, so I will take his opinion with a lot of weight,” said Brady. 

During the question and answer session after the lecture, Hill answered a question about freedom of speech on college campuses, explaining that while universities exist for the debate of dangerous, provocative ideas, certain expressions should not go without consequences.

 “The constitution does not allow you to do things without consequences. If I run to my boss’s office and curse him out, I can do that under freedom of speech but I’m still violating company policy, and I likely won’t have a job,” said Hill. “I think it’s simplistic and dismissive to say ‘suck it up, that’s not how the real world works’ because that’s not how the real world works…sometimes, what people are doing is not the expression of free ideas but enjoying the extraordinary privilege of whiteness.”