Journalist and television host Roland Martin took it to his weekday morning show on July 8 to denounce remarks made by Fox’s daytime talk show host, Wendy Williams.
Williams is in hot water over comments she made about historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and the NAACP after discussing Jesse Williams’ speech from the BET Awards on her show.
On June 26 the “Grey’s Anatomy” star was awarded BET’s Humanitarian Award, where the human rights activist delivered a compelling acceptance speech on racial inequality.
“Now, what we’ve been doing is looking at the data and we know that police somehow manage to deescalate, disarm and not kill White people everyday,” said the executive producer of the documentary, “Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement”. “So what’s going to happen is we are going to have equal rights and justice in our own country or we will restructure their function and ours.”
Williams praised the actor’s speech and concurrently voiced her opinion as to why she has a dilemma with HBCUs and the NAACP.
“On the other hand, I would be really offended if there was a school that was known as a historically White college,” the T.V. personality said. “We have historically Black colleges. What if there was the National Organization for White People, only? There’s the NAACP. By the way what is this? Colored. We’re still using, colored?”
Williams’ comments sparked uproar on social media with Twitter users expressing their dismay. The backlash of her comments did not end there.
Martin addressed her remarks on his morning show “News One Now.” He said White Americans had always been a part of the NAACP.
“You do realize that the NAACP was founded by a mix of folks who were Black and White,” Martin said. “You do realize that the first president of the NAACP, Wendy, was White.”
The NAACP was formed partly in response to the continuous horrific practice of lynching and the 1908 race riot in Springfield, Ill.
Appalled by the violence being committed against Blacks, a group of White liberals including Mary White Ovington and Oswald Garrison Villard, issued a call for a meeting to discuss racial justice. Sixty people, seven of whom were African American, which included W. E. B. Du Bois, Ida B. Wells-Barnett and Mary Church Terrell, signed the call.
In 1909 the NAACP was born and is considered the nation’s oldest, largest and most widely recognized grassroots-based civil rights organizations. It has more than a half-million members and supporters.
Martin also addressed the reason why historically black colleges and universities existed.
“Historically black colleges and universities, Wendy, was a federal designation given in 1965 to recognize these historical universities,” he said. “The reason why you don’t have historically White universities is because we simply call them, universities.”
There were no structured higher education systems for Black students before the Civil War. Public policy and certain statutory provisions prohibited the education of Blacks in various parts of the nation. The Institute for Colored Youth, the first higher education institution for Blacks, was founded in Cheyney, Pennsylvania, in 1837. Followed by two other Black institutions—Lincoln and Wilberforce Universities.
Although these institutions were called universities or institutes from their founding, a major part of their mission in the early years was to provide elementary and secondary schooling for students who had no previous education. It was not until the early 1900s that HBCUs began to offer courses and programs at the postsecondary level.
After 24-hours of incessant backfire on Twitter, Williams said her comments were misconstrued and went on to clarify them on her show.
“Be very clear, I find nothing wrong with historically Black colleges,” said Williams. “My father graduated from Lincoln, which is a Black college. My brother graduated from Virginia State, but my thought in my mind was, and what I said to you is, ‘How would I feel if I was applying to colleges and that they were historically White was part of the marquee?’”
The television host also shared her thoughts on current day racism. Williams went on to slam any notion her stance resembles that of Stacey Dash. A statement made by Martin in response to Williams’ comments.
“Wendy, let me help you out with something, when you’re on T.V. and you have no idea what you’re talking about, shut the hell up,” Martin said. “I’m tired of you wannabees who have television shows and radio shows who sound utterly ignorant of our own history.”
Since the incident. Martin has accepted an invitation to Williams’ show to clear the air.