Edmonds CC celebrates Martin Luther King with speech by Michael Eric Dyson

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“Let me tell you the ultimate white privilege,” Dyson said to a crowded audience at the Edmonds Community College Black Box Theater. “If you reach for your wallet, an officer will not assume it’s a gun.” (All photos by Natalie Covate)

Edmonds Community College celebrated Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday Thursday with a speech with a speech and discussion of current events and controversial topics by Dr. Michael Eric Dyson.

Dyson is a sociology professor at Georgetown, but is also known as an author and radio show host, among other things.

The Black Box Theater at Edmonds Community College filled up quickly Thursday afternoon. When Dyson asked how many in attendance were students, at least a third of the room raised their hands.

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The line to enter the Black Box Theater grew all the way to the corner.

Then, he began discussing some events of today and reflected on Martin Luther King, Jr.

“If you were looking to avoid controversy, you would not get an education,” Dyson said.

The theme of the afternoon was “Shift Happens.” Dyson discussed how electing a black president represents a shift in how Americans think about race.

“I’m not saying anyone who is critical of Obama is a racist,” he said. “But so much of the criticism around Obama is racially charged.”

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The crowd cheered as Dr. Michael Eric Dyson entered the theater.

 

He also offered a few jokes.

“This is the most significant black family to live in public housing,” he said. The crowd laughed. “Section eight has never looked better.”

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“Martin Luther King was a vibrant man,” Dyson said. “He had humor. He had jokes.”

Dyson connected Obama back to Martin Luther King. A lot of people like the president, but a lot of people are critical. He reminded the crowd that King, who is generally loved now, was also seen as problematic during his time.

“If he was so great, if he was so loved, why was he murdered?” Dyson said.

That resonated with students in the audience. One stood up to comment on how people see King as more than human even though he was just a man. Dyson agreed.

“He was a man. He was a regular guy. He was a human being,” Dyson said.

Talks also included the Black Lives Matter movement, gender discrimination and sexuality. Dyson spoke for nearly two hours.

Those in attendance were glad for the range of topics.

“I’m really glad he talked about Black Lives Matter. I feel like people are becoming desensitized to it, but black people have these issues that need to be talked about,” Ejimogu Acholonu, an Edmonds Community College student, said.

Second year student Daniela Murguia was glad Dyson spoke about gender issues.

“I like the way he talked about gender,” she said. “He used a lot of points white folks use when talking about race.”

Overall, the crowd was impressed with the event.

“I thought he as inspiring and entertaining,” said Edmonds Community College staff member Cinda Lewis. “He brings perspectives in a way that are easily received.”

–By Natalie Covate

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