Although UMKC cancelled classes due to weather conditions, students still beat the cold to hear from Florida’s 2018 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum at the 11th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture Series.
There were no open seats after the Division of Diversity and Inclusion invited the former Tallahassee mayor to be this year’s speaker.
The audience sat in excitement as Gillum told the story of his experience on the campaign trail.
Gillum spoke of becoming a national figure after he was one of three black candidates to become governors in the United States.
Gillum’s at-the-time opponent, now Governor Ron DeSantis, made the comment, “The last thing we need to do is monkey this up,” which brought national attention to this very close race.
“This race turned racialized not by accident,” said Gillum about his bid for Florida governor. “I learned, and it took a couple weeks to learn that this was not about who won, but it was about more.”
He said it was about bringing it home by raising the voter turnout, one million Florida felons winning the right to vote and sharing a progressive message that could’ve impacted many people.
He also talked about the importance of black history month and how it should be year-round, not just a passing month.
When Gillum geared the conversation towards Dr. King, he didn’t speak about his fight for civil rights. Instead, Gillum admired how Dr. King also fought for economic justice and was later killed when talking about it.
He went on to discuss how people were more afraid when Dr. King fought for economic justice because he was bringing together the unions, activist and poor people.
“This is not an attack on rich people, but every broke person I know wants to be rich,” he said.
Gillum spoke about multiple topics and brought them together to create one rhythmic speech that easily guided the audience.
Gillum spoke about how anyone can be politically knowledgeable and involved and referenced one of today’s hottest artists in Hip Hop.
“Look at Cardi B. This is not an endorsement of content, but she knows the struggle and represents young people.”
Rashane Hamby, UMKC junior studying Urban Studies, found it important to attend Gillum’s lecture.
“It allowed for unfiltered and uncensored direct dialogue. In a world full of sound bites, it’s important to actually get to directly hear from prominent people,” said Hamby.
She also said that Gillum was honest, sincere and exactly who he appears to be.
Many other attendees like UMKC junior Neisha Clayborn majoring in communications and psychology also admired Gillum’s character.
“As I listened to Mr. Gillum’s MLK speech, it was apparent that this man was genuine in fighting for equality for his people and others that are disadvantaged by a corrupt system,” said Clayborn.