Speaker discusses racism, Martin Luther King impact

Corey Merrill

The Washburn community welcomed an experienced motivational speaker, Barry Scott, Wednesday, Feb. 8 in the Washburn Room of the Memorial Union.

In a speech that lasted about an hour, Scott talked about his love for his family, his obsession with Martin Luther King and his experiences with racism as a youth.

When Scott was a child his father showed him one of King’s speeches, and Scott instantly felt a connection with the speaker. After getting support from his parents, Scott read King’s speech “I Have a Dream” at his church.

“I was so scared and nervous that I sweat all over my speech, and I couldn’t make out the words,” said Scott.

The experience was upsetting for Scott, but after the speech, he received tremendous support from his church.

In an emotional part of his speech Scott narrated an experience in which he was threatened by a police officer when he was 16 on his way to pick up his first date.

“I was at a stop and a I heard a voice say, ‘nigger get out of the car.'”

“I thought I was being robbed, but it turned out to be a cop,” said Scott.

Scott remembered being humiliated by the officer and feared for his life. The encounter helped rejuvenate his passion for King and he became more active in the community.

“Something about the voice of King that attracts people to what he is saying, but I want people to understand his message,” said Scott.

Scott has appeared in motion pictures and speaks to students across the country. He is founder and artistic director of the American Negro Playwright Theatre in Nashville and is also the creator of Living With Theater, an interactive program designed to discuss important social issues with school-aged children.

The Campus Activities Board, who sponsored the event, learned about Scott at a convention in Tulsa, Okla.

“We got a chance to see Barry perform, so we talked with his agent and got him to come speak at Washburn,” said Ande Davis, talks and topics director for CAB.