Monti Washington, actor and motivational speaker, returned to Pittsburg State University to speak to students about injustice, oppression, and discrimination.
His messages included many different topics including racial discrimination, sexism, and societal failings he has seen in his life.
“If I had to explain it in a couple sentences, I would say all lives matter, but they don’t matter equally,” Washington said. “So, until we realize that underserved underrepresented groups’ lives matter just as well as those who are in a position of power or privilege, then all lives matter will be impossible.”
Washington used the “all lives matter” argument during various parts of his speech. He often used the idea of “all lives matter” as justification for social justice movements such as the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020.
Monti Washington gave advice to people who are not necessarily educated or familiar with many of the social reforms being pushed by activist.
“So not even first step, step zero is to realize if there are enough people that are saying we’re struggling, then you should take a step back and ask why that is,” he said. That’s the first thing that’s the step zero is just saying ‘I keep hearing about these movements. Movements only happen if enough people are speaking up. If enough people are struggling, if there’s enough people struggling to start a movement, I need to ask why is that movement started in the first place?”
His message involved having a conversation about issues that he believes are affecting the entire country. Washington shared a message to people who currently feel oppressed and put-down by the way societal structures treat them.
“Your life matters,” he said. “You are enough. And even though you feel oppressed, honor those feelings. But at the end of the day, you got to find your tribe. You must continue to speak up and fight. There’s a lot of oppression outwardly but don’t oppress yourself internally. There’s a lot of people who are struggling outwardly, but you can find freedom within if you learn to accept yourself. If you learn to meditate, if you learn to love yourself, you can free yourself internally, even though it may not be externally. There are people who are oppressed outwardly that have freedom within, and you can be one of those people.”
Cale Chapman, junior in communication and president of the Gorilla Activity Board (GAB) was “satisfied” with the message Monti Washington shared and reiterated the importance of conversations like what the speaker shared.
“GAB is an organization that thinks his message is really important and it’s something that all students at Pittsburg State should have the opportunity to listen to,” Chapman said. “You know he’s got good perspectives on a lot of different missions. And at GAB we think it’s important to have events that provide perspectives that maybe we won’t get here in the community that can educate people on current events and issues that are happening out in the country right now. So not only students can have those conversations on campus, but they can become smarter and more responsible citizens when they go out into the world and graduate.”
Chapman shared his enjoyment of Washington’s message and talked about the importance of students being exposed to new ideas and perspectives.
“The title was ‘Which Lives Matter” and that’s you know that’s a hot button issue right now,” Chapman said. “There’s a lot of people with a lot of different opinions on all the different protest movements that are happening in the United States coming and to people that hesitated to come because of the title and because of the subject matter, I would say to keep an open mind. I think it’s important to go out there and chase different opinions to you know really, absorb them and work to understand them. I think that makes us more well-rounded people, so I would just say, you know, keep an open mind.”
Monti Washington can be found on social media with the username “Montivation” where he continues to share his message of social justice and societal reforms.