Going deeper than politics

Christina Stavale

Speaker discusses the importance of keeping conservative virtues

Lee Walker speaks on Conservative Multiculturalism in the Student Center yesterday afternoon. LESLIE CUSANO | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Jason Hall

As a part of Kent State’s celebration of Black History Month, Lee Walker, president of the New Coalition for Economic and Social Change, spoke to students and faculty about multicultural conservatism in a lecture yesterday afternoon.

Mark Weber, dean of the Kent State Library, said for the past eight years, Library and Media Services has brought in black speakers, such as civil rights leader Bob Moses and scholar Bill Allen, during the month of February.

“We look for someone who will provide a point of view that students may not have heard before,” he said.

In yesterday’s lecture, Walker explained the influence of Booker T. Washington on his conservative views.

“The word ‘conservative,’ as it relates to Washington, has a complex meaning,” he said.

He explained that in black culture, the meaning of the word “conservative” goes deeper than in the Republican or political point of view. Rather, it is a mindset based on culture, tradition and religion.

Conservative virtues such as education, entreprenuership, keeping the family together and solving problems brought blacks to the 1960s, Walker said.

He said conservative leadership in the black community began with the atmosphere the Civil War created for Washington. Washington’s views centered around creating a black middle class.

The best way to do this, Walker said, is to nourish a love of education. He said if people learn to do one thing well, “the world will be a path to your door.”

In his lecture, Walker also mentioned that true conservatives are radicals in some sense. Radical conservatives, he said, are a bit more forceful in their beliefs, advocates and users of nonviolent means to challenge an existing structure.

One of the questions Walker said he is often asked regarding his beliefs is, “What do Negroes have from their past that they want to conserve?”

He discussed the many things they have to conserve, and quoted George Skyler, who said, “The true conservatives of America are black folks because they have dodged everything that has been thrown at them.”

Chris McVay, lecturer of English and Pan African Studies, who attended the lecture, said she believes conservative methods for blacks are not the best way to bring about progress.

“Progress comes from people who get in your face,” she said. “They’re the ones who bring about change.”

Contact news correspondent Christina Stavale at [email protected].