The University of Tennessee Issues Committee and the Black Cultural Programming Committee are sponsoring a discussion by a politician and activist, the Rev. Al Sharpton, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in the Cox Auditorium, located inside the Alumni Memorial Building.
A controversial figure and a Pentecostal minister, Sharpton ran for president in 2004 and is an outspoken advocate of racial equality.
According to Rachel Matthews, a member of the Issues Committee, the group has a lineup of speakers each year with Sharpton being the highlight of this fall.
"Reverend Sharpton is our keynote speaker for the semester," Matthews said.
The senior in English believes that attending Sharpton’s speech is beneficial to all students, even if they don’t necessarily agree with all of his opinions.
"It’s always advantageous to hear ideas expressed, whether you agree with them or not,” she said. "It gives people the opportunity to strengthen their intellect."
Chasmin Brooks, chair of the Black Cultural Programming Committee, expects Sharpton to touch upon a number of issues including race, blacks in America and the controversy surrounding Hurricane Katrina. He also said that Sharpton’s discussion is a great opportunity for the UT community.
"Reverend Sharpton brings new perspectives to students," Brooks said. "Whether you agree or disagree with what he says, you can learn something from hearing him. His discussion is an opportunity to enlighten people and gives students a chance to expand their horizons."
Students such as Austen Sanders, junior in psychology, are proud to have such a high-profile speaker come to UT’s campus.
"It’s Al Sharpton," Sanders said. "The guy ran for president, and he’s all over the news. I’m proud that UT has the ability to attract such a famous national figure. It’s a real credit to the university."
Sanders said that students should attend because it may let them see things in a new light.
"A lot of times, people look at controversial issues and fail to see them from someone else’s perspective," he said. "This is a man that has the ability to make you step back and say to yourself, ‘Wow, I never thought of it that way.’ So I hope students take advantage of having Sharpton here on campus."