Colleges honor MLK with former communist leader, #MeToo activist, and Women's March leader

Colleges around the country used Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to promote various social justice causes.

A former communist leader, #MeToo movement activist, and a Women's March leader are among the people marking the holiday.

On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Americans remember the life and legacy of the man who led the fight for African American civil rights. 

But some colleges have used the day to honor King as an opportunity to promote more than the expansion of civil rights for African Americans, inviting a Women’s March leader, former communist figurehead, and others.

1. UNC defends hosting ‘anti-Semitic’ Women’s March leader for MLK Day

The University of North Carolina-Asheville will host Women’s March leader Tamika Mallory the week of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, despite Mallory’s refusal to condemn statements made by Nation of Islam founder Louis Farrakhan, who has called Adolf Hitler “a very great man.” Mallory once referred to Farrakhan as the “greatest of all time,” and last week on ABC’s The View refused to condemn his statement comparing Jewish people to “termites.” 

Some have seen Mallory’s refusal to outright denounce Farrakhan’s remarks as at odds with Martin Luther King, Jr.’s outspoken support for the state of Israel as “one of the great outposts of democracy in the world.” 

[RELATED: UNC-Asheville faces pressure to disinvite pro-Farrakhan Women’s March speaker]

2. Former communist leader, FBI’s Most Wanted activist set to keynote MLK Day speech  

The University of New England will host former Communist Party USA leader Angela Davis. Davis was also once charged with murder and kidnapping, which landed her on the FBI’s infamous “Most Wanted” list. She was eventually acquitted of those charges. Still, these accusations of violence against Davis raise questions as she speaks at UNE to honor King, who advocated against violence.    

”I still believe that non-violence is the strongest approach,” King once said during an interview. “I feel that organized nonviolent resistance is the most powerful weapon that oppressed people can use in breaking loose from the bondage of oppression.” 

3. Anita Hill’s MLK Day speech devolves into #MeToo mantra

Mere months after Americans witnessed then-Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh fend off allegations of sexual assault, Elon University hosted Anita Hill, who in the 1990s accused then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual assault, to mark Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Hill has become an outspoken supporter of the #MeToo movement, and her support of the movement was apparent during her MLK Day speech at Elon University. 

“What we have today has changed a lot since the ‘70s and ’80s and ‘90s, and yes, things have changed, but has enough changed? No. Sadly, whether verbal or psychological harassment or sexual assault, some leaders still fail to see sexual violence as a matter of public significance, and that’s what you saw in the Kavanaugh hearing: that politics were more important than the experience of women,” Hill said, as Campus Reform previously reported

[RELATED: Petition aims to rename Clarence Thomas building]

4. Univ honors MLK Day with gender identity ‘teach-in’

Illinois Wesleyan University will host two guest speakers on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, including “black, queer feminist community organizer” Charlene Carruthers and LGBT activist Dave Bentlin. A university news release described the event to honor the former Baptist minister as a “gender and social justice teach-in,” specifically addressing “gender identity.”  

The LGBT activist group IWU Pride Alliance is scheduled to lead the Jan. 21 “teach-in,” according to the news release

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