Journalist Roland Martin Urges Activism at Southern U. PDF Print E-mail
By April Buffington -- Black College Wire   

Syndicated columnist and television commentator Roland Martin jump-started the 2009-10 Southern University Chancellor’s Lecture Series with three words on Sept. 9.

“Playtime is over,” Martin said to a packed audience of students, faculty, staff, and community members at the Smith-Brown Memorial Union’s Royal Cotillion Ballroom.

April Buffington/Southern Digest
Roland Martin
The comment was directed toward African-Americans who relaxed after President Barack Obama was elected in November and took office in January.

“Ever since Obama won the presidency, the black community has been on a seven-month Mardi Gras picnic,” he said.

Yadeal Tamaru, a freshman political science major from Dallas, said he loved the fact that a black person spoke up about the post-election hangover. “It’s about time we came off our high horse and acknowledge that there is still a lot of work to be done. I also believe he made a good point, saying Black people need to be more accountable for their actions and not just depend on the Black president in office.”

Martin, describing his preference to speak how real people speak in real life, told the audience that the community must use their collective voices to help make changes at Southern or in America.

“Our silence gives the impression that we do not care,” he said. “Black advancement does not mean we stop fighting, it means we fight harder.”

Khyelle Anthony, a senior mass communications and business marketing major from Los Angeles, agreed with Martin’s comments.

“Whatever we want to accomplish or change in the world starts with us and we work out from there, instead of starting on a larger scale and working down.”

Martin asked for anyone that went to the Capitol to ask about funding for the university to raise a hand during his speech. He counted 19 raised hands.

“Nineteen people out of the whole university? If you cannot make the effort to meet at the Capitol, who will?” Martin asked in response.

Michael Drew, a sophomore accounting major from Atlanta, said he realized the lack of dedication from Southern students—including himself—during Martin’s speech.

“It was a huge eye-opener seeing that only a few students have been to the Capitol to check on our funding. I am guilty for being part of the vast majority who have not been to the Capitol, but Martin has motivated me to use my voice to advocate what I feel is right.”

Jared Pennywell, a junior mechanical engineering major from Baton Rouge, said Martin was the type of speaker Southern needed to come address its community. Martin made good points, including the need for alumni to give back more than they currently do to their alma mater.

Briana Brownlee writes for The Southern Digest, the Southern University student newspaper, which originally published this article.

Posted Sep. 21, 2009
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