Keynote Speaker: It’s whites over blacks in America

By Gus Bode

The United States’ master plan depends on the oppression of historical evidence of white’s acts of supremacy over blacks, a leading historian said during the Black History Month keynote speech Wednesday night.

Manning Marable, founder of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University, spoke before a crowd of about 60 in the Student Center Auditorium for a speech titled “From Slavery to Freedom: A History of Africans in the Americas.”

Marable outlined a history of the hardships he said blacks have endured at the hands of whites, starting with slavery. He said blacks have lived in America longer than 99 percent of white Americans.


Through examples ranging from Malcolm X to two unnamed boys who were beaten with baseball bats and lynched for allegedly raping a white woman, many of his stories drew murmurs of agreement from the crowd.

His focus was showing the connection between slaves brought in bondage to the United States and what he called “20th century color-blind racism.”

Pamela Smoot, an assistant professor in Black American Studies and chairwoman for Black History Month, said Marable was chosen for the keynote address because he is one of the premier scholars of black history.

“He has a national and international reputation. I just knew he’d do a great job,” Smoot said.

She also cited Marable’s knowledge in multiple areas.

He is a professor in public affairs, political science, history and black studies, and he has written almost 200 articles for academic journals.

He has also taken part in the writing or editing of 21 books and is working on a biography of civil rights figure Malcolm X.


Marable said elements of the shared history of whites and blacks influences public policy today, and American society always results in whites at the top and blacks at the bottom.

He said white Americans are taught that being white means never having to say they are sorry.

He compared the idea of one race being superior to another to Nazi Germany. “It was a lie in Nazi Germany and it’s a lie here,” Marable said.

Associate Professor of Photography Fern Logan said she thought the speech was stunning and to the point.

“He’s able to bring out a lot of this disturbing historical fact without anger and resentment,” Logan said. “He presents it in a way that still gives us hope for the future.”

Brittany Smith, an undecided freshman from Peoria, said she learned a lot from the speech. “It gives me an idea of how things need to be changed instead of the top surface,” Smith said.

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