Salt Lake Community College and Westminster College collaborated to present W. Kamau Bell as the keynote speaker for this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Speech. The speech was held Jan. 17 at the Grand Theatre.
The event kicked off with a soulful, two-song performance by the SLCC Mass Choir. Bell, most known for being the host of CNN’s docuseries “United Shades of America,” has also recently published a memoir-style book, “The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell.”
The purpose of the keynote speech was to discuss issues of diversity and multiculturalism prevalent in our country. With the aid of Bell’s unique sense of humor and knowledge on these subjects, the speech was eloquent and thought provoking for everybody in attendance.
“W. Kamau Bell opened my eyes to the different issues our country is facing involving diversity and gave me the context to form my own opinion, all while being very funny throughout the evening,” says SLCC student, Callah Davis, expressing her enjoyment of Bell’s speech.
Bell’s primary theme throughout the evening was the idea of people going out and learning about the issues themselves, rather than just taking what’s heard from others as absolute truth. This idea was expressed through Bell’s own words.
“Do not believe the hype, go out and meet the people involved with these issues, and form your own opinions,” says Bell.
Throughout the speech, Bell used several different clips from “United Shades of America” to add visual context and provide a well-rounded view of the issues discussed, as well as the people involved. The clips ranged from his visit to the Arizona border town of Nogales, to a very nerve-racking interview with a group of Ku Klux Klan members, who were self-proclaimed progressives.
Bell’s willingness to travel to the frontlines of these issues and report a non-biased perspective while maintaining a sense of humor has become his trademark. The consensus for the evening was that the keynote was a success and SLCC would be glad to have W. Kamau Bell return in any capacity.