Civil Rights Conference to bring Martin together, not divide

The UTM Civil Rights Conference came under attack in an article by Cathy Hinners on Daily Roll Call, a site devoted to “exploring and exposing Islam in America.”

In the article, she talked about how this Civil Rights conference was a way for “young black activists being recruited by Communists, Socialists and Islamists.”

“It is disturbing to see a Tennessee state university use their resources to promote what could be a training session for upcoming protests against America, creating an environment where whiteness is evil, shaping young minds to believe they are slaves, and pushing an anti-American agenda,” Hinners said.

Hinners ended the article with a call to action for readers to contact UTM Chancellor Dr. Keith Carver to complain about the conference’s events and motivations.

However, this whole article is against what the conference actually is. The Civil Rights Conference has been held every February for 17 years, beginning in 2000. Ever since, many topics of civil rights have been given a spotlight during the conference. It was not always about the Black Lives Matter movement, it just happens to be the topic of discussion of this year’s conference–and rightfully so.

It is not a protest training session intended to divide the town of Martin, but a fellowship to bring the people of Martin together through the discussion of race issues in the county, as well as in the nation. All people across all walks of life, such as African-American students, conservative leaders, professors and others make up the attendance of the conference events.

After publication, several people commented on the article. The people who agreed included those who never attended the conference or are not from the area, and do not know UTM’s inclusive environment. However, some commenters were quick to correct the article on what it was truly about.

“As a resident of Martin, Tennessee, the hometown of this university, and as one who attended all of these events, I can tell you that you are dead wrong,” said one commenter, who used the alias “Polka.” “The whole conference was a platform to hear ideas from people involved in these movements. It was, in no way, a platform to support radicalism, a liberal agenda, or to silence any voices who might disagree with the attitudes expressed by the speakers.

“It was a productive time in which conservative, Southern Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, atheist, etc. white leaders and other locals and academics came together with black leaders, black protestors, and black students and had meals and heard speakers, and sang hymns, and talked about the state of race relations in this country.”

The user also pointed out that many conservative public figures, such as political commentator and journalist Scottie Nell Hughes, have hosted events on campus, proving that UTM is impartial on who visits and speaks on the campus.

We at The Pacer believe that if anyone wants to complain about campus events and what they stand for, they should attend the event and research on it before passing judgement or even posting on the internet. Doing so will help educate members of the public, and prevent the spread of ignorance and false information.

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