The Political Awareness Committee (PAC) hosted academic, activist and author Marc Lamont Hill on Nov. 7 to deliver a lecture titled “Building Community in an Hour of Chaos: Transnational Alliances and the Politics of Affinity” and participate in two Q&As with students as the committee’s most prominent speaker of fall semester.
PAC, a branch of the Student Government Association (SGA), works all year to bring political speakers, movies and other events to campus for St. Olaf students. Every year, PAC plans for a fall speaker and a spring speaker, alongside other guests.
According to PAC Coordinator Or Pansky ’20 the purpose of these events and speakers is to discuss the “existential condition that we are a part of that’s in need of naming and critiquing.”
Dr. Marc Lamont Hill is the host of BET news, a former political contributor to CNN and an award-winning journalist. He is also professor of media studies and urban education at Temple University and an author or co-author of four books.
Before the evening lecture, Hill participated in a Q&A with students from courses that align with his work and the message of his speech. At the opening of the event, Pansky introduced Hill and addressed meaningful political and social topics, such as decolonization and campus diversity.
In his lecture, Hill focused on building a sense of community during a time of political chaos, which he described as when “intellectuals are silenced” and “sections of our public are disposable.” To foster a sense of community, Hill emphasized the need to listen and to build a “united front.”
He also touched on topics such as prison reform, racism, the Middle East and political activism. After his speech, Hill responded to audience questions about subjects ranging from cancel culture to Palestine.
During the address, Hill emphasized the importance of imagination and self care. He explained how students should “dream bigger” and “act courageously,” even when activism can be difficult.
“This stuff is lonely,” Hill said, regarding activist actions. “But we don’t have to be prisoners.”
Future PAC events are currently in the works and may soon be announced. Pansky said the spring speaker is yet to be determined, but made it clear that Hill’s lecture was a success.
“He gave a really incredible talk,” Pansky said. “We work to bring speakers who focus on our position critically in the world, and for the fall speaker, that was Marc Lamont Hill.”