Expounding on themes of racial inequality and nonviolent response, TV personality and author Touré applauded last year’s national cry for justice during his keynote speech at Northeastern Illinois University on Jan. 20.
“We’ve spent so much of the past year demanding justice for black people in America, demands very similar to what [Martin Luther King Jr.] spent his life making,” Touré said before referencing 2014’s high-profile deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police and the subsequent community responses. “King Day this year was a thrilling show of civil disobedience and activism from coast to coast.”
Touré, the co-host of MSNBC’s “The Cycle” and author of “Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness? What it Means to Be Black Now,” made the remarks during Northeastern’s “Because He Lived” tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.
Touré spoke for an hour and then answered questions that touched on political and racial bias in the media, and how black artists have responded to ongoing racial disparity.
When asked how the black community can gain the support of other marginalized groups as well as that of the white community, Touré suggested more legal action was needed. Along with petitioning senators and congressmen to stop appropriating military-grade weaponry to local law enforcement agencies, Touré encouraged the audience to organize and mount lawsuits to halt certain police practices, using the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement’s challenge to New York City’s controversial “stop and frisk” program as an example.
“The legal aspect really forced the NYPD to change,” he said. “The unconstitutionality of ‘stop and frisk’ was laid bare.”
“Because He Lived” also featured Northeastern student vocal group Imani Na Nia Kwa Umoja, who sang “We Shall Overcome,” and a solo performance of “Precious Lord” by Derrick Hearns, a student intern in the African and African American Resource Center.