The D.I.V.E. (Diversifying Individuals via Education) RI Conference was held on Friday and Saturday, March 27 and 28 in the University of Rhode Island’s Memorial Union. The conference seeks to empower students and educate them to create social change and this year’s conference featured Marc Lamont Hill, a man best known as an author, activist, and political commentator at CNN.

Hill received a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania where he focused his study on how race, culture and education are all related.

Prior to working at CNN, Hill worked at Fox News where he debated against political commentators such as Bill O’Reilly. From this experience, Hill realized that focusing on differences between peoples does not help progress towards change. He highlighted this ethic in his speech, stating that, “the first thing I think we have to do without question is have a commitment to listening”.

Courtesy of: Nora Lewis
Courtesy of: Nora Lewis

As an activist, Hill has been participating in organizing and attending protests for the last twenty years.

Hill was in Ferguson, Missouri, the first day of the riots which began while protesting the shooting of Michael Brown. During his address for D.I.V.E. RI, Hill spoke on how the media covered these events and his personal support for these community engagements.

His speech at this year’s conference, which was organized by the Multicultural Unity and Student Involvement Council (MUSIC), focused on the idea that there is still work to be done to end inequality. He believes that there is a lot to be accomplished beyond just that of racial equality. Hill said, “We cannot stop at a black president and not look at the people who are homeless in that very same city.” Though the country has made progress in equality for race, gender, etc., Hill believes that we cannot be trapped by thinking “our democracy is complete”.

Hill believes that much of what can be done in the country can be done first on college campuses such as our own. He recognizes that the best way to start change is to, “join an organization”. In many cases, Hill addresses the fact that “you have to be willing to commit to organizations even if you don’t get the microphone”.

Dr. Hill’s speech will not soon be forgotten as Hill used his inspirational voice to reach the audience. Hill stressed the idea that “the biggest problem in the world today is that there’s too many people who don’t do anything”. Following Hill’s example people should acknowledge his statement that, “the world is fundamentally changeable and I can change it.”