By O’Shay Massey
Over 400 students, faculty and community members gathered in the University Center of Western Carolina University on Thursday evening to hear the words of famous anti-racism activist, Tim Wise.
Tim Wise has visited WCU multiple times before to share his perceptive on society today, and students were excited to hear from him.
“I was super excited about the event before hand, but I was even more elated to finally hear him speak, and address some of the issues that are actually going on, on our own campus,” Mali Gunawardena, Intercultural Affairs Council Chair, said at a reflection dialogue Friday morning.
Tim Wise is known for his speeches addressing racism in America. Since 1995 he has spoken at over 1000 college and high school campuses across the U.S. “I can’t promise that folks will stay because I realize when we talk about this issue about race, racial equity and racial justice… it is often easier to walk away,” Wise stated as he started his speech.
Wise’s speech, which lasted about an hour and a half, touched on many topics of racial and economic injustice in America. From thoughts on this years upcoming election to the reality of slavery, Wise gave insight on a lot of different things.
“I realized some of the facts and history that he was saying about my history, were some things that I didn’t even know about myself. I learned a lot and it made me realize I need to make sure I’m properly informed about my own history,” Baron Crawford, Student Body President, explained after the activist’s speech.
Wise carefully and wittily discussed the meaning of white privilege in front of an audience of Caucasians, African Americans, Latinos, and more. Most audience members stayed to hear Wise’s speech, however a few people did walk out during the more difficult topics.
Wise tied his whole speech into the current condition of the nation with the election right around the corner. He referenced Donald Trump’s campaign slogan by ending his speech with, “Let’s not make America great again, but let’s make it great for the first time.”
Over 500 tickets to the event were given out and the University Center Grand room reached capacity. Additional rooms were needed around the University Center were used for overflow seating. Wise continues to speak across the nation on a yearly basis and the Intercultural Affairs Office intends to welcome him back to Western in the upcoming years.
Tim Wise was sponsored by WCU’s Intercultural Affairs Office. For more information about events hosted by the Intercultural Affairs Office, visit www.wcu.edu.