MLK celebration speaker has heated exchange with SGA senator

Nathan Weaver

A tense exchange took place on Jan. 30 between Student Government Association senator-at-large Keyshawn Housey and MLK celebration speaker Roland Martin during a public Q&A.

Housey addressed Martin last in a series of students and other audience members who asked the speaker various questions during the Q&A segment of the event.

The exchange began with a few statements from Housey concerning past allegations leveled against Martin by “various twitter activists” alleging that Martin “danced around” issues concerning the black community during interviews with politicians, such as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

“There are critics out there, some on Twitter, who single you out as a modern day accommodationist,” Housey said. “You know, whenever you interview some politicians, it seems you dance around the issue.”

Martin pressed Housey to tell him who specifically made such allegations. Housey mentioned prominent Twitter personality Tariq Nasheed, with whom Martin has publicly feuded on social media.

{{tncms-inline account=”Tariq Nasheed” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Another reason why The Dems lost tonight, is because you all tried you use your hand picked, butter biscuit eating Sambos, like Roland Martin & others like your Shea Butter/Blavity Blacks/Root/Ebony flunkies to galvanize the young Black vote. And Black folks don't mess with them</p>— Tariq Nasheed (@tariqnasheed) <a href="https://twitter.com/tariqnasheed/status/1060026122400817152?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">November 7, 2018</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/tariqnasheed/status/1060026122400817152″ type=”twitter”}}

Martin asked Housey what, specifically, he had “skipped over” during his town hall with Hillary Clinton. Housey responded by saying “I don’t remember.” Martin quickly replied.

“Now hold on now,” Martin said. “You can’t say you don’t remember, because see, if you’re gonna use her as an example of me interviewing a politician and I skipped around topics, but then you can’t define the topics I skipped around, and you can’t define the topics I skipped around, and you can’t define what the agenda is, and then you can’t even remember what I asked her, then what’re you talkin’ about?”

Housey replied, “I guess I’m talking about nothing.”

By this point in the exchange, the reactions from the audience were reaching a fever pitch.

“Never ever get up and ask a question when you don’t already know the answer,” Martin said.

Martin asked Housey if he had personally watched the town hall in question. Housey replied that he had watched parts of it.

“So how could you say I skipped around some issues of an interview that you did not even see the entire interview?” Martin said. “Maybe the parts you say I skipped around are the parts you skipped around.”

Martin concluded his response by outlining what he believed Housey ought to take away from the conversation, and how he ought to have approached asking his question.

“So here’s the lesson in this,” Martin said. “One, never ever ask a grown-ass man a question you [don’t know] the answer to. A professional like me can take your lack of a substantive question and completely flip it in 30 seconds and embarrass you publicly. Don’t ever make the mistake again.”

After finishing his response, Martin turned to the rest of the audience and asked, “Anyone else?”

The director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, Takeshia Brown, quickly wrapped up the event and dismissed those in attendance.

Exchange continues on Twitter

Later on social media, junior history major and Young Democrats secretary Michael Woody came to Housey’s defense.

{{tncms-inline account=”Michael Woody” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The most frustrating thing of the night was his treatment of students. A student asked a legitimate question regarding Martin’s leniency with democratic politicians in the past, and Martin avoid the question. He attacked the student in front of the crowd…</p>— Michael Woody (@MWoody2036) <a href="https://twitter.com/MWoody2036/status/1090988643060273153?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 31, 2019</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/MWoody2036/status/1090988643060273153″ type=”twitter”}}

Woody said that Martin had insulted and mocked a student who was simply “trying to learn.” Martin replied to Woody on Twitter several times, accusing him of lying and claiming that Housey “had his facts wrong.”

Woody shared his thoughts on Martin’s exchange with Housey.

“I think my big takeaway from Martin’s exchange with Keyshawn is that he is very good at his job,” Woody said. “He managed to spin a critical question into a conduit for him to build on his ego. He took a good question, the kind he pushed us to ask, and turned it into an excuse to verbally abuse a student in front of a crowd.”

Later, Housey also shared his thoughts on the words he exchanged with Martin.

“This was definitely a learning experience,” Housey said. “I was definitely shook at the intensity. But I guess that comes with the territory. He may have thought that I was trying to attack him, when that was not the case. I really do appreciate [Woody] coming to my defense.”

For a full recap of Wednesday’s MLK celebration event, click here.

Nathan Weaver, The George-Anne News Reporter, [email protected]