“Lift Every Voice and Sing,” often referred to as the Black National Anthem, could be heard from Old Union Hall on Friday as a group of roughly 75 attendees were led in song by the night’s keynote speaker, Marc Lamont Hill, a host of BET News and professor of media studies and production at Temple University .
Binghamton University’s Black Student Union (BSU) and Multicultural Research Center (MRC) hosted Hill and presented his speech as a conclusion to the events held to celebrate Black History Month on campus. Hill, a former political commentator for CNN and Fox News, spoke on a number of topics, ranging from the importance of student involvement in political organizations to the complex nature of the Black Lives Matter movement and BSU’s theme for Black History Month, “Resilience: Achieving Black Excellence in All Aspects.”
After singing with the crowd, Hill said he thought the song was more relevant than ever.
“Even at the worst moments of our time here in America, our vision of freedom was not to be morphed into somebody else’s,” Hill said. “We didn’t want to just reverse the effects of oppression, but create a context in which everyone would have access to freedom, justice and equality. It was a call for America to live up to its democratic promise and was why we must lift every voice and sing.”
Hill also stressed the importance of including other black minorities, such as women and LGBTQ people, in conversations about blackness and Black History Month, as they are often ignored in mainstream black history.
“It’s also important to highlight those faces and voices that are erased,” Hill said. “I’m talking very specifically at the intersection of blackness and queerness. I’m talking very specifically at the intersection of blackness and womanhood.”
Hill emphasized the importance of student activism and student organizations, and said feelings of isolation can affect black students, but that they can be combated.
“You have to find the right community in college, such as a Black Student Union, and you accept that some people won’t accept you and you accept that,” Hill said. “With isolation comes a certain need for self-care and strategic pacing. You have to find time for activism, but you also need time for joy, to party and sing and be happy.”
Last November, Hill was fired from CNN for making pro-Palestine remarks at a United Nations meeting. While answering questions from students, he said it was difficult to be fired so publicly, but emphasized that he does not regret what he said.
“I entered every single TV episode with the assumption that I would be fired because I told the truth and that allows you to have a fearlessness when talking about any issue,” Hill said. “My firing was a small price to pay for speaking the truth.”
Osariemen Aiyevbomwan, a member of BSU and a freshman majoring in human development, said she enjoyed the speech and related to Hill’s discussion of activism.
“I thought Marc Lamont Hill’s radical take on reimagining the possibilities of black freedom in America was so inspiring and thought-provoking,” Aiyevbomwan said. “My favorite part was how well he spoke about the revolutionary power of imagination and putting actions toward said imaginations.”