Juan Williams encourages better race relations at WKU in speech

Taylor Harrison

Juan Williams knows how to fill a room.

Williams, a political commentator for the Fox News Channel, spoke Tuesday night in a crowded Downing University Center auditorium as WKU’s Black History Month keynote speaker.

He began with a few jokes before launching into the more serious topic of race relations in America, particularly among students at WKU.

Williams made headlines when, last October on “The O’Reilly Factor,” he commented on Muslims in America by saying he gets worried and nervous when around Muslims on airplanes. He was fired from his job at NPR and moved to Fox News Channel.

But on Tuesday, Williams’ main topic was race relations.

He told the audience that we live in “a world where race relations are changing.”

Rather than just read off statistics and numbers, Williams took a more creative approach to addressing some of America’s problems.

He told the audience to imagine that an elderly Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came running in, interrupting the speech to ask about the current state of race relations.

Williams said to imagine having to break the news to King that the poverty level in America is 15 percent, and that more and more children are born to single-parent households.

“I thought it was a different approach,” freshman Erin Spencer said. “He told it through a story. I think it made people pay attention.”

Williams also joked about what King would think about rap music videos and reality shows. Then he told the audience members to ask themselves, “What do you think about race in your generation in 2011?”

Throughout the entire speech, Williams continued to deliver the message as if King was conversing with the audience.

“He spoke the truth about the problems,” freshman Hannah Murphy said.

Williams encouraged the audience to “recognize that the greatness of Dr. King lives in you.”