Marc Lamont-Hill talks black activism and voting third party at annual FMO event

Amy Li, Assistant Campus Editor

Host of BET News Dr. Marc Lamont-Hill reminded black students at Northwestern to look to the black tradition of resistance and freedom fighting as a tool to make sense of the current “moment of chaos.”

Hill recalled how in the age of Barack Obama’s presidency he felt the need to prove to people that a black man in the White House doesn’t mean the country had turned a racial corner, but in the age of Trump, “so much of that has been laid bare,” Hill said.

The key to building a community of resistance is “an audacious imagination,” he said at a talk hosted by For Members Only and the Contemporary Thought Speakers Series.

“Let us imagine a world without prison, a world without a militarized police presence,” Hill said. “Don’t just imagine an effective #MeToo movement, let’s imagine a world without patriarchy, without misogyny, without transphobia, without homophobia. We can produce something better, that’s what it means to have this freedom dream.”

Hill said in a backdrop where college campuses are “filled” with sexual violence and universities behave more like multinational corporations than places of higher learning, struggle is necessary for democratic possibility.

FMO President Anyah Akanni said Hill’s words are especially important to hear considering the recent chain of incidents targeting women near Northwestern’s campus.

“Violence in that way is always gendered, but it’s also racialized,” the Weinberg senior said. “But when our response to violence like that is to increase police presence—what does police presence do for some racialized bodies?”

The event included a question-and-answer section, moderated by Director of Graduate Studies Mary Pattillo, during which Hill answered student questions submitted prior to the event.

Leading up to the presidential election in 2016, Hill defended his decision to vote for a third party candidate. Hill said he “I would rather have Trump be president for four years and build a real left-wing movement that can get us what we deserve as a people, than to let Hillary be president and stay locked in the same space where we don’t get what we want,” he said on VH1’s “The Breakfast Club.”

When Pattillo confronted Hill on whether he felt the left-wing movement he envisioned was realized, Hill laughed and joked that he doesn’t “accept the terms of the question.”

Hill said his answer in 2016 was in response to a pointed, rigorous political question about why one should vote for the Green Party without the possibility of winning. He answered by encouraging people to vote according to their values and not to the outcomes of the election.

He added that his main priority during the election was to “keep Trump out of the White House,” and his comments on voting Green were directed specifically at those who were voting in a blue state. However, the activist said he is “deeply regretful” and believes it is necessary for him to be held accountable for how his words are understood.

Hill ended the conversation on a lighter note with a thought from Kiese Laymon’s in “Heavy: An American Memoir” about a desire for black people to have “good love, healthy choices, and second chances.”

“That always sticks with me. It governs how I think about my life, what our activism should be,” Hill said. “I want black folks, poor folks, all the folks to have access to healthy choices. And when we don’t make the right choice, we need structures for second chances.”

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