“America, listen to yourself,” were the first words of Lamont Hill’s lecture given in conjunction with the African-American Cultural Center on Tuesday, Feb. 26. On the subject “Race, Politics and American Life,” Hill attempted to give students and patrons an objective assessment on the condition of American society as a whole.
Hill is a well-known social activist, television commentator and media personality who has provided regular commentary for networks such as CNN, NBC, MSNBC and Fox News. He has written numerous articles for The Washington Post, Essence magazine, and the New York Times. Hill is currently a professor at Columbia University and is the host of the nationally syndicated show “Our World with Black Enterprise.”
Hill is a founding board member of My5th, a non-profit organization aiming to educate underprivileged youth about their legal rights and responsibilities, and actively tours colleges giving speeches on pressing issues. With the lecture, Hill spoke on the ever-changing condition of America. On President Barack Obama’s reelection, Hill emphasized it is important to “admire what we have built” as a nation.
Hill continued, talking about the Civil Rights Movement at length, and its impact on us as a society. “The Civil Rights Movement was not just a ‘black thing,’” Hill said. “It never was … King didn’t want the world to just look like a Gap commercial.”
Calling for reform of the political system, he proposed for listeners to ask themselves, “What is America’s promise? We’re committed to all this stuff, yet it’s still unfree.”
Speaking of the importance of youth, Hill said, “There is no revolution led by old people. There’s no exit strategy for old black leaders.” Considering the technology and opportunities of today’s world, Hill said he believes a revolution in thinking, politics and power is fully in the hands of the younger generation, when previously youth had little or no say in political America.
“The intersection between race and politics is often unseen,” Hill said. Intertwining lessons in political diversity, hip-hop and increased literacy, Hill included his view on integrity in oneself. “We let the wolves watch the sheep,” Hill said, “and after the slaughter, say, ‘Damn, if only those sheep were more responsible.’”
The evening continued with Hill touching on controversial topics such as the shooting of Trayvon Martin, poverty, affirmative action and racial lines. Hill believes that America needs to come to terms with its democratic promise and wants people to have a better understanding of race and politics in American life.
Hill ended the evening by stressing the importance of listening to the perspectives of others, no matter what economic class or race they come from.
“Lift every voice,” Hill said. “We must listen to every voice.