Black History Month at UR has given all students a chance to learn more about African-American culture. Speakers like Kenneth Harrow, in addition to events like Step Off, collaborations between the UR Cinema Group and Black Students’ Union and Black Tuesdays have been well attended. Much like the very successful Martin Luther King Jr. Day Conference last month, the inclusiveness that these events exhibited improved diversity and unity on the UR campus.

However, the decision to broadcast Minister Louis Farrakhan’s Saviours’ Day speech at UR is a step away from this productive mindset.

It is not known if Farrakhan will convey anti-Semitism or prejudice in his speech, but his Saviours’ Day speeches in past years have been marked by conspiracy theories and racial rhetoric.

Farrakhan believes that the improvement of African-Americans’ quality of life is independent from improved dialogue between different races. Although calls for progress should be acknowledged, they should not come at the cost of relations with other ethnicities.

It should be noted that the alternative nature of these words does not, alone, constitute a reason to exclude him from being broadcast on the UR campus – or anywhere in America, for that matter.

Mindful of UR’s commitment to diversity, students should be offered the opportunity to view opinions other than their own.

However, it should be further noted that February is designated a month to increase the profile and awareness of the African-American culture among all Americans. Farrakhan’s reliance on our differences is counterproductive, preventing mutual understanding between different ethnicities in America – there is a clear separation between his message and the aim of Black History Month at UR.

This disconnection could easily be resolved, though, considering that the event is being co-sponsored with the Muhammad Mosque of Rochester study group.

Although it should be recognized that there is meaningful outreach between the community and UR, another community organization could have hosted the satellite feed and transportation provided for students who want to see it. In doing so, UR can avoid the implicit endorsement of this event that comes with hosting a broadcast feed, so it can maintain its vision of Black History Month.

Despite strong efforts throughout the past weeks, the decision to broadcast Farrakhan here, which is part of the “Crowning Event of Black History Month,” mars the overall message of racial tolerance and unity.

Broadcasting Farrakhan is a step away from an understanding between students of different ethnic and racial backgrounds, setting back UR’s attempts to foster diversity and reasoned discussion about race.



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The Campus Times is live tracking the Gaza solidarity encampment on Wilson Quad and the administrative response to it. Read our updates here.

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