Dr. Paul C. Taylor, associate professor of philosophy and African-American studies at Pennsylvania State University, held a discussion inside Niagara University’s Gallagher Center Wednesday during the university’s week-long celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The topic of the discussion focused on the “Black Lives Matter” movement and how current contemporary figures are carrying on Dr. King’s legacy.
“Other dreamers, contemporary dreamers like people in the ‘Black Lives Matter’ network, are continuing this tradition in ways that we must create,” Dr. Taylor said to the crowd. Dr. Taylor also spoke about the argument of whether the movement should be called “Black Lives Matter” or “All Lives Matter.”
“This is exactly the kind of argument you would have found in the 50s & 60s,” he said. Dr. Taylor then spoke about a political cartoon that he saw in relation to the “Black Lives Matter” vs. “All Lives Matter” argument.
The cartoon featured two figures, with one proclaiming the phrase “Black Lives Matter” and the other one saying “All Lives Matter” in response. Two houses were then shown. One was ablaze and the other was not. The latter figure is seen spraying water on the house that is not burning yelling, “All houses matter!”
“There’s a kind of premature appeal to the universal. All houses matter, that’s fine,” Dr. Taylor said. “But one of them is on fire, and you should probably do something about that one before you focus on this leap to the universal.”
Many students of different backgrounds gathered around to hear Dr. Taylor speak. “I think the topic is relevant today and interesting,” said Niagara University student Sarah Grubbs. “There are two different objectives, but each of them really represents the bigger message of unity,” said Niagara University senior Eric Rigg.
In addition to the several points that Dr. Taylor made, he also shared some surprising studies with the audience. In 2014, ProPublica published a study with the result being that young black men were 21 times more likely to be killed by the police than young white men.
Dr. Taylor ended the discussion by answering several questions from students and faculty. The movie Selma was screened at 9 p.m. soon after the discussion ended.
Article by junior communication studies major Maegan Jones. Photos by Andrew Emmons, a Niagara University sophomore studying communications and criminal justice administration.