Williams discusses state of race relations

Corbin junior Ashlee Sorke, left, has her photo taken with Fox News political commentator Juan Williams, center, Tuesday night after the Black History Month Keynote Address given by Williams in the Downing University Center Theatre.

Taylor Harrison

Juan Williams, a political commentator for Fox News, spoke on Tuesday night with what Hopkinsville freshman Erin Spencer called “a different approach.”

“He told it through a story,” she said. “I think it made people pay attention.”

Williams, who was fired from his job at NPR last October for saying he gets worried and nervous around Muslims on airplanes, wasn’t at WKU to talk about what he said on “The O’Reilly Factor.” He was WKU’s keynote speaker for Black History Month, and he made his main topic current race relations.

But Williams made sure to lighten the mood with a few jokes first, noting that many students might have been at a mostly crowded Downing University Center Theatre on Tuesday night for extra credit.

Williams had statistics prepared, but he didn’t just list them off. Instead, he began to tell a story.

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

“He captured my attention by encouraging us to live through the spirit of Martin Luther King,” said Anna Schreiner, a Louisville freshman.

Williams used statistics about poverty, the rise in single-parent households and immigration while keeping to the King story.

He continued to impress upon his audience how shocked King would be when shown how America has changed — both in good and bad ways.

Williams also pointed to two very successful people to celebrate during Black History Month: Oprah Winfrey and Bill Cosby. However, he also said King would not be impressed by current rap music videos and shows such as “Flavor of Love.”

Louisville freshman Allison Riedling said the speech taught her to respect diversity.

“It inspired me to be a better global citizen,” Riedling said.

Williams also talked about the importance of thinking for yourself, not just relying on what others have to say.

“You can’t just get locked in a history book,” he said.

Williams said most Americans tiptoe around the issue of race.

“America has become the land of the living dead when it comes to race,” he said.

Williams ended his speech by encouraging the audience to “recognize that the greatness of Dr. King lives in you.”