Half a Century After MLK; WKCTC Panel Reflects on Race in America

Apr 4, 2016

From left to right: KY State Representative and WKCTC Professor of Political Science Gerald Watkins, Murray State University History Professor Dr. Duane Bolin, Panel Facilitator Berry Craig III, MSU Professor of History and Coordinator of Religious Studies Brian Clardy, WKCTC Professor of Sociology and Philosophy David Nickell
Credit WKMS

  A panel discussion  in Paducah recently focused on issues of "Race in America." The forum is part of West Kentucky Community and Technical College's Diversity and Inclusion Series. Topics included the display of the Confederate Flag, which some view as a symbol of slavery and resistance to racial equality.

WKCTC Sociology and Philosophy professor David Nickell graduated from high school in 1975 and says he was taught that the Civil War was not about slavery, but state’s rights.

“Right to do what, well to own slaves. And I would think we should not be having this conversation now except I’m still getting students in my class who are insistent that it was not about slavery. I don’t know how many times you have to beat a dead horse to get this through,” says Nickell.

Murray State University History Professor Duane Bolin says Kentucky did not secede from the Union during the Civil War. He says contrary to popular belief, only a small portion of the state made the claim and that was the Jackson Purchase Area

It has been almost half a century since Martin Luther King Jr. was shot in Memphis. Panel Facilitator and retired history professor Berry Craig asked whether King would be proud of America today, the panel unanimously agreed things have come a long way, but requires much more effort before equal opportunity for all will be achieved.

MSU History Professor Dr. Brian Clardy says the country hasn’t yet become post racial, but he has hope

“There are still the vitriol of old that expresses itself in our political discourse. Now granted it's not the same kind of hate speech that we heard in the past, but it is there, it is subtle, but the overtones are obvious,” says Clardy.

Clardy says there is a paradigm shift in a rapidly changing culture that creates anxieties reflected through racism. Audience member Cindy Abraham says that the only way to start a progressive dialog about race is with love.