Where do we go from here?

Annika Lindburg, Staff writer


Pulitzer prize-winning columnist and author Leonard Pitts addressed race, hope, faith, and “where to go from here” since the election on Feb., 21 at Ice Auditorium.

Meridith Symons of the Office of Academic Affairs has a book signed by Leonard Pitts after his Feb. 21 lecture in Ice Auditorium.



Pitts asked the audience an important question from the get go. “If you’re not optimistic, what’s the use of getting out of bed in the morning?” This set the tone for the rest of his talk.

Pitts mentioned hope, which he tried to carefully balance between providing being an inspirational speak, while also admitting that he has been in a rut in regards to hope as well.

“At the end, you must leave people with some hope.” Pitts went on to explain, “In other words, your obligation is to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth as you see it about whatever god awful thing you are discussing,” Pitts said.

“The truth is, is that it has been increasingly difficult to find my way back to hope,” Pitts remarked.

Contrary to what many individuals thought was true, when Obama became president, racism did not disappear. “This is not our first time living in a racist world. Just because we elected our first African American president, we did not eradicate racism,” Pitts said.

Pitts reminded us that change takes time, and that what we do now can affect generations after us. “Martin Luther King never saw Barack Obama elected, but they set the change that allowed the ballot to be created,” Pitts said.

“There is something very real about present day gratification. We want to see sexism, racism over now. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work this way,” Pitts said.

Pitts had some inspiring words to say about our seemingly bleak future. “Don’t worry if you can’t see the curve of the horizon from your vantage point. Just have faith,” Pitts said.

Pitts also reminded us that this is not about us verses them, but about reason. “ I believe that America’s ideals are reclaimed in this moment or erased forever. This is not a fight about ideology or conservatives versus liberals. This is not a fight about whether you care about a big or small government. At a fundamental level this fight is about reason. Whether decency, science, or treating people with dignity and respect is important to us. We must decide now. The barbarians are not at the gate. They are through the gates and have their feet up on their couch,” Pitts said.

At least one good thing has emerged from this election. “The one good thing to come out of this is that the good people of this country seem to have finally awakened. There is an energy that is here that wasn’t ten years ago. There is an urgency that is alive in us that has not been here for a long time,” Pitts said.

Pitts left us with a contradictory statement. “Here’s the paradox: I stand before you energized and eager. It occurs to me that America, my America, my America, is worth fighting for,” Pitts said. He restated his message of hope. “We had hope in 1865 and we saw hope crushed. We had hope in 2008 and here we stand nine years later with that hope crushed. I offer you only faith, and that hard work is waiting for willing and steadfast hands. I have no hope but I have determination greater than ever before,” Pitts said.

After his final words, Pitts got a standing ovation.

Pitts answered a few Q & A’s from the audience.

One audience member asked “how likely do you think it is that Trump will be impeached in the near future?” Pitts answer was surprising. “I think impeachment is more than a little likely because the thing about Mr. Trump is he’s very sloppy, and vague on his understanding of the rules and regulations. I think it’s very telling that he’s had more scandals in not quite four weeks than Barack Obama had in eight years. I find that very telling. It’s inconceivable to me that he gets through four years without even his Republican cohorts being forced to do something. There comes a point where you have to face what’s in front of you. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it happen in two years,” Pitts said.

Sara Gomez ‘17 asked Pitts about what he sees in the future for how to unite our community and the country to care for these members who are being told this is not there home. “The most effective strategy that you can use is the one that has the most risk for undocumented people in particular. You need to put a face on the problem. Once you put a face on it, the face is at risk for being deported. There is that danger. Perhaps there is a way to anonymously put a face on it- the story. What is the story of that person? As long as you exist in the shadows, and you’re unseen and you don’t have a voice , it becomes easy for those who are opposed to you to objectify you and to make you an abstract and make you a caricature of who you are. Things don’t change until a face is put upon it. In media and whatever forums you have access to. These are the lives, the 11 million people, who are not so much unlike yourself” Pitts said.


Pitts had a book signing after the Q & A.