Fired CNN contributor and social justice activist Marc Lamont Hill appeared as the keynote speaker of Texas A&M's Thirteenth Annual Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast on Tuesday. The event was sponsored by the MSC Carter G. Woodson Black Awareness Committee.
Ebony Magazine named Hill one of America's 100 most influential Black leaders. His life's goal is to achieve "equality and freedom" for African Americans. However, from advocacy for Colin Kaepernick to spreading trans awareness, Hill's "provocative style" has led to controversy, as explained in his speaker's bio, which lists the cost of hosting him between $10,000 and $20,000.
In 2018, CNN fired Marc Lamont Hill from being a regular contributor after he came under fire for his speech at the United Nations International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. Hill called for a "free Palestine from the river to the sea," a statement perceived by many as Hill calling for "the end of the Israeli state" and anti-Semitic.
He later tweeted that he does "not support anti-Semitism, killing Jewish people, or any of the other things attributed to my speech." In a separate tweet, Hill clarified that "it was a call for justice, both in Israel and in the West Bank/Gaza."
In addition to his former CNN role, Hill also worked as a tenured professor at Temple University. Following the incident, Temple University released a statement expressing its "disappointment, displeasure, and disagreement" with Hill's statement at the UN meeting. However, Temple ultimately decided to keep Hill as a faculty member, as Campus Reform reported at the time.
As a guest on Studio B Unscripted, Hill revealed, "it all starts with Malcolm X." Hill read Malcolm X's biography as a teenager and "hasn't been the same since." He most admires Malcolm X's "sincerity."
Reflecting on what the impact of the civil rights activist's voice would be in this time period, Hill said, "we gotta create some new [voices]."
According to the History Channel, Malcolm X was a supporter of "black nationalism" and advocated fighting for racial equality "by any means necessary," which the History Channel points out "often put him at odds with the nonviolent teachings of Martin Luther King, Jr." Malcolm X was also involved with Nation of Islam, which even leftist outlets like the Southern Poverty Law Center have described as holding a "bizarre theology of innate black superiority over whites" and whose leaders espouse "deeply racist, antisemitic and anti-gay rhetoric."
As reported by The Wrap, a photo from 2016 pictures Hill with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who is widely regarded as holding anti-Semitic views. Hill says that he does not agree with Farrakhan on everything; however, he "will not be told who to speak to, sit with, or engage." Hill also referred to Farrakhan as his "brother."
In a separate statement, Hill compared Farrakhan to Fox News hosts such as Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, and Ann Coulter in the vein of extremity. He noted, "if you think [Farrakhan's] extreme, I think they're extreme."
During an interview with The Breakfast Club, Mr. Hill said he is "more afraid" for his life in the United States than in Saudi Arabia. This is due to two reasons, he said, one being that there is more anonymity in the Middle East and the second being that there is more violence in the United States than anywhere else.
According to A&M, past speakers for the MLK Day breakfast have included former communist leader and one-time FBI's Most Wanted activist Angela Davis and Michael Eric Dyson, who once compared the Betsy Ross flag to a swastika.