Roland S. Martin – a noted journalist known internationally for his appearances on CNN and as the host and managing editor of “Roland Martin Unfiltered,” the first daily online show in history focused on news and analysis of politics, entertainment, sports, and culture from an explicitly African American perspective – will be the guest speaker Tuesday, Feb. 13, at the University of Tennessee at Martin’s 24th annual Civil Rights Conference.
Martin will speak at 6 p.m. Feb. 13 in Watkins Auditorium of the Boling University Center. The event is admission-free and open to the public.
Known as “The Voice of Black America,” Martin launched the Black Star Network, an OTT network that features a variety of shows focused on news, culture, finance, wellness and history. BSN is available on Apple and Android phones, Apple and Android TV, Roku, Amazon Fire, XBox One and Samsung TV.
Henri Giles, a lecturer in the Department of Mass Media and Strategic Communication and the chairperson of the Civil Rights Conference, said Martin’s reputation as a no-nonsense journalist in many areas of the field is well known.
“Roland Martin is one of those voices that has the power to cut through a lot of the noise and the nonsense that we hear every day,” she said. “He is someone who has a perspective that is very forthcoming.
“He does not mince words; he tells it like it is, and he’s not afraid to do that. I think that’s one of the appealing things about him for people who have followed him throughout his career.”
Giles said that Martin’s talent lies in taking topics of the day such as news, culture, politics and other issues relating to social and racial equity and breaking them down for his audience.
“He will be able to bring an explanation about these issues that many news journalists don’t,” she said. “I think that’s what is unique about him: being able to get to the bottom of what these issues are really all about.”
Martin has spoken on many of these issues that are involved in civil rights over the years.
“He is one of those voices who is not afraid to talk about job issues,” Giles said. “He’s not afraid to talk about political issues or housing issues. There are several subjects that he has brought attention to on his programs.”
Giles said those in attendance at Martin’s program will get a lot out of what he says.
“Anything that is happening that we know about, he will talk about,” she said, “but here’s the thing: He will also talk about those things that we may not know about.
“A lot of information – this whole concept of gatekeeping is: We know what we know because of what people tell us, but I want to know what people aren’t telling us. So, I think people who come to hear Roland will definitely get perspectives on things that are happening that we see in the news a lot, but he’s also going to bring us information about things that we may not see in the news a lot.”
Giles added that “civil rights” isn’t just a term for a historic period in this nation’s history, but something that is here and now.
“I think one of the misconceptions about the term ‘civil rights’ is that a lot of people’s minds go back to the 1950s and ‘60s,” she said. “But, many of the issues that this country was dealing with then, this country is dealing with now. Voter suppression is one of them.
“When we look at some of the tactics that were implemented in the mid-20th century, they are very similar to what we are seeing today. So, when you talk about civil rights, that encompasses a lot of things. It involves all kinds of freedom for different groups.”
Martin is the second guest speaker for the UT Martin Civil Rights Conference. Olympic breakdancer Carmarry “Pep-C” Hall spoke on Feb. 6, and noted author, scholar and political analyst Dr. Eddie Glaude (last name rhymes with “cloud”) will speak on Feb. 20. For more information about the Civil Rights Conference, visit www.utm.edu/civilrightsconference.com.
Photo: Roland S. Martin, a noted journalist and commentator, will be the guest speaker at the UTM Civil Rights Conference at 6 p.m. Feb. 13 at Watkins Auditorium in the Boling University Center.