Leftist students at Kennesaw State University protested a black speaker for the Georgia school's Martin Luther King Jr. Week Legacy Luncheon because Roderick McLean is vice president of defense contractor Lockheed Martin Marietta — and King was "anti-war," the students said.
What are the details?
Marisol Mendez, president of Students for Justice in Palestine at KSU, told the school newspaper, The Sentinel, that inviting McLean to speak at the Jan. 16 event sullied King's legacy of non-violence.
"Inviting someone who represents the military-industrial complex to a celebration that honored MLK's legacy was disrespectful," Mendez added to the paper. "MLK was anti-war and anti-imperialist, and this action shows that KSU does not truly respect MLK, the marginalized groups on our campus, or our voices."
A KSUnited statement regarding the decision to invite McLean said, "Lockheed Martin is the largest defense contractor in the world, which manufactures military equipment such as missile defense systems and F-35 fighter jets. This same military equipment is then used to rain bombs down on helpless people caught in war in their country of birth."
It added that "it may seem honorable for KSU to recognize McLean's achievements as a Black engineer who went to an HBCU, which represents Black success in an historically oppressive society. However, his standing as a keynote speaker at an MLK Legacy luncheon also represents KSU's direct support of war, which opposes Dr. King's message of non-violence ... MLK was an anti-racist, anti-capitalist, and anti-war revolutionary, and to pick and choose aspects of his philosophies is a common tactic used by elitists to water down Dr. King's legacy to fit their own interests."
The statement included a list of demands for future MLK Jr. weeks, including returning full control of the week to students from marginalized communities, making the luncheon open to the general public, and creating an anti-racist education center at KSU, the Sentinel said.
The statement was signed by 13 groups, including Young Democratic Socialists of America at KSU and Students for Justice in Palestine at KSU.
What else did protesting students do?
KSUnited held a die-in demonstration outside the Convocation Center where the luncheon was held, the paper said, adding that students taped signs to their chests that read, "3 percent of US military spending could end world hunger" and "Lockheed Martin supplied weapons for the conflicts in Yemen and Syria."
Students and community at Kennesaw State University including @KennesawUnited, @YDSA_KSU, and @answercoalition prot… https://t.co/1z5ZXFvEdv— PSL Atlanta (@PSL Atlanta) 1579206742.0
President of KSUnited Alexa Vaca told the Sentinel that the demonstration was focused on political education and not counterprotesting.
"We did it before the luncheon and as people were walking in so that they could see a depiction of victims of war and the cost of war," Vaca said.
How did college officials react?
KSU said the luncheon was intended to honor King's legacy despite student disagreement.
Here's a clip of McLean speaking at a different event in 2017:
(H/T: The College Fix)