Lewis appearance at LaGrange College drawing protests
Published 4:57 pm Monday, January 16, 2017
Despite some protests, LaGrange College is standing behind its decision to have U.S. Rep. John Lewis deliver the institution’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. address on Jan. 26, according to President Dan McAlexander.
In addition to broad support, a few objections were received from alumni, upset with Lewis’ recent comments regarding the election of Donald Trump and interference with the election process by Russia.
“Since our January event marks the college’s observance of Dr. King’s birthday, Rep. Lewis was invited back to campus because he is a great American hero of the civil rights movement,” McAlexander said. “As a compatriot of Dr. King and as one who has led his life in accord with the nonviolent principles espoused by him, often at great cost to his own freedom and physical well-being, he was chosen as a most appropriate speaker for the occasion.”
McAlexander noted this is not Lewis’ first visit to the campus.
“In recognition of his courageous work and leadership during the civil rights movement and his long and distinguished service to the nation, the state of Georgia and the citizens of Atlanta, our Board of Trustees unanimously voted to award him an honorary doctorate in 2006, the year he served as our commencement speaker,” he said.
LaGrange College also hosts the Racial Trust Building Initiative, a multiracial group formed by the mayors of LaGrange, Hogansville and West Point to discuss issues that divide the community and find ways of addressing them.
“We are proud to be involved with this very important work,” McAlexander said.
The president said the college routinely offers a wide variety of events and speakers.
“Our invitations never imply institutional agreement with everything individuals might say,” he said. “Likewise, our students are accustomed to hearing from speakers who represent a wide political spectrum, and we are confident they possess the critical-thinking ability to value a lifetime of service, while perhaps disagreeing with statements of that individual.”