Super Bowl champion and NFL legend Burgess Owens — who dares to be conservative— took a lot of hate for speaking out “against” his “own people” during a speech he gave at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in March.
What are the details of the lecture?
During his lecture at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Owens, 66, discussed leadership, entrepreneurship, and overcoming obstacles as a young black man growing up during segregation.
Hosted by Young Americans for Freedom, Owens told his own story of success during the lecture.
“I grew up in the Deep South during Jim Crow segregation laws,” Owens said. “I can tell you how racism looks, how it feels, and what it means. You guys today can go anyplace you want to — any restaurant, any college. We just had a [black] president for eight years guys, elected by Americans. There is nothing you cannot do today based on your tenacity. Can we guarantee success? No. We shouldn’t. What we guarantee is the opportunity to work for it.”
He later added that young people today have it much easier than young people of his day did.
“If I can tell you as someone who came through the days of segregation, we have never had it as good as we do right now,” Owens explained. “If all you’re hearing is how bad things are, day in and day out … you’re going to believe bad things.”
According to video — and a statement by Young Americans for Freedom — students continuously interrupted Owens during a post-lecture Q&A segment.
The segment eventually went so awry that a moderator had to step in and close the session.
What did attendees say to Owens?
During the Q&A panel, a female attending the lecture asked Owens his thoughts about police brutality.
“What was your name again?” the unidentified female inquired.
Owens told the woman his name, to which she quipped, “Thought it was Tom,” which seemed to point to the controversial nickname, “Uncle Tom.”
Clearly put off by Owens’ remarks, the woman then left the auditorium.
“There goes our biggest problem,” Owens said. “The minute you start calling names, you’ve already stopped the debate. You’re not looking for answers. You’re looking for ways of insulting, and that’s not how Americans do it.”
A male audience member went on a loud rant about the school bringing in “xenophobic” speakers like Owens.
When the lecture’s moderator stepped in to shut down the inflammatory and irrelevant line of questioning, others students rallied and began shouting for the male to be able to continue speaking.
“Why is it OK to bring people to talk against their own people?” the male erupted, and began shouting about “structural racism.”
The audience joined in shouting their support of the male, and this is when the moderator shut down the Q&A portion of the lecture.
“White fragility!” was a common phrase many from the audience could be heard uttering afterward.