Liberty University Students to Hold Protest Against Decision to Select Donald Trump as MLK Speaker
Students at Liberty University are outraged over the fact that the evangelical Christian school has chosen Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to speak on campus Monday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. As a result, some students are even planning to protest the decision by holding a peaceful demonstration Monday morning.
"I immediately felt that it was somewhat inappropriate, and then I started to hear from people who felt the same way," said law student Eli McGowan, an organizer of the protest, about the school's decision to bring Trump in as a guest speaker during an interview with Yahoo News.
He argued that Trump's politics are divisive and stand in complete contrast to Dr. King's legacy.
"Mr. Trump, by his actions and his words, he's really revealed that he is antagonistic to the ideals that Dr. King lived for and ended up dying for," said McGowan.
Officials at the university, however, have defended their decision to solicit the GOP front-runner as a guest speaker on MLK day at Liberty University's "convocations," a student gathering at in Lynchburg, Virginia.
"Our President (Jerry Falwell Jr.) invited Mr. Trump specifically for that day cause we felt like it's a great opportunity for him to speak about among other topics about racial equality about making this country become more and more the very dream that Martin Luther King had," said David Nasser, Sr. Vice President of Spiritual Development, for Liberty University, according to ABC affliate WSET.
Likewise, Mark Hine, the senior vice president for student affairs at Liberty University, said the convocation will give the billionaire business man the opportunity to commemorate King.
"I think this one was picked to afford Mr. Trump the opportunity to, among other things, honor Dr. King. It wasn't like we said, 'Let's go find someone who would be anti-Martin Luther King,'" Hine told Yahoo News. "I don't know that absolutely everything Trump would say aligns with Martin Luther King, but I don't see him in any way as being the total opposite."
McGowan, however, does not agree with celebrating MLK Day with Trump, who has previously called for a ban on Muslim entering the U.S. and building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
"Mr. Trump is someone who enjoys and profits from dividing people among racial, gender, national and ethnic lines, and mocking those he doesn't have much in common with. Whereas Dr. King was a great unifier and sought to understand even his enemies," McGowan said.
He added that he and other protesters plan to hold signs with quotes from Dr. King at their demonstration.
"We will try to really cast a light on what Dr. King stood for while not participating in a convocation that gives a stage to who really has made it clear that he is not in favor of that same goodwill treatment of all people"