LaGRANGE, Ga.- Georgia Congressman John Lewis will be delivering the MLK Address at LaGrange College on January 26, at 3:30 p.m. at the Callaway Auditorium.
President of LaGrange College, Dan McAlexander said they have been trying to have Rep. Lewis speak at the event for years. Lewis, who spoke at the college’s commencement address in 2006 has an honorary degree from LaGrange College.
McAlexander says the college tabs someone connected to the Civil Rights Movement to speak at the event, and they want someone who will provide a rich and rewarding experience for students.
McAlexander said Rep. Lewis is a man of great courage and led a distinguished career of public service, and they wanted him to speak since he is a great representative of the peaceful, non-violent movement that Martin Luther King was a leader in. McAlexander told News Three that Rep. Lewis was invited to speak for his civil rights record..
Recently, Rep. Lewis became embattled with President-Elect Donald Trump when Lewis said he would be boycotting the inauguration because he felt that Trump would not be a legitimate president. President-Elect Trump fired back saying that Lewis should focus on problems in his own district.
In light of the recent events between Rep. Lewis and President-Elect Trump, some folks contacted the college saying that they were disappointed with the fact that the congressman will be speaking, but they have also received positive feedback as well.
McAlexander said that the college has a variety of speakers from across the political spectrum, and added that they do not take positions on controversial or partisan issues.
“We view our obligation and job as providing a space where the conversation can take place, and where our students can discover for themselves,” McAlexander said. “The second sentence of our mission statement talks about supporting our students in their search for truth. We don’t hand them what we think is true. We help them develop the skills and capacity to evaluate information, to think critically about that information and then form their own opinions.”
McAlexander went onto add that, “I would say almost every speaker that comes to campus finds a way to offend someone. We think that’s part of the educational process. We trust our students to have the critical thinking ability to make their judgements for themselves, to value a lifetime of service and yet, still disagree with something someone might say or might have already said.”
Of the hundreds that are expected to be in attendance, former Troup County Commissioner, Tripp Foster said he is not thrilled about Rep. Lewis being at the college, but plans to attend and do a lot of listening.
“I’m going to be optimistic looking for hope from Representative John Lewis that he’ll be able to tell me and the rest of the attendees that he plans on becoming part of the solution and not the problem in this country,” Foster said. This country needs healing. It doesn’t need division anymore. We need people of all races, all faces and all parties affiliated to come together, and pull the wagon together and make this country great again.”
Foster added that Lewis has been a representative to the people for decades, and that he should have known better than to make the statements he made about President-Elect Trump. Foster added that no matter who the president is, it is correct etiquette to respect the office. Foster said that people do not have to agree with or like someone, but as Americans, we should strive to understand that person and what they are trying to do to help the country and find ways to work alongside them.