Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rapper Killer Mike tells USF students to cross boundaries, mentor kids, be radical

Michael Render, aka Killer Mike, speaks about racism and social justice at the Marshall Student Center at the University of South Florida on Wednesday night, January 20, 2016. [ZACK WITTMAN  |  Times]

Michael Render, aka Killer Mike, speaks about racism and social justice at the Marshall Student Center at the University of South Florida on Wednesday night, January 20, 2016. [ZACK WITTMAN | Times]

TAMPA — Killer Mike came to the University of South Florida on Wednesday night with no speech planned for the hundreds who packed into the Oval Theater to hear from the rapper and social activist.

But Killer Mike a.k.a Michael Render, the Grammy-winning artist of Run the Jewels fame, didn't need index cards to deliver his message. Fans know that's not his style anyway.

A fast-talking, passionate Render paced the stage and told a sea of USF students this:

You need to get out in the community if you want to make a difference.

"It is time for you to take your butt off campus and find a child that does not look like you (to mentor)," he said.

Render was the university's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Week speaker. His talk was the signature event in the campus' weeklong commemoration of King's legacy.

The thrust of his speech focused on the importance of mentoring: Black college students need to be living examples for younger minorities, Render said. And white students must engage with the black community — not just to help struggling kids, but to learn themselves.

"It is time you find black people to teach you and become your friends," he said, then later emphasized: "You will grow from the friendship. I am not the activist I am because I only trained with black people."

Render kept the mood light, often cracking jokes about himself. But he also touched on several serious topics involving race in America.

He also came to the defense of presidential hopeful and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who Render has supported on social media and interviewed for a series of online videos on Youtube.com.

Earlier Wednesday, Render took to Twitter to defend Sanders from bestselling author Ta-Nehisi Coates, who criticized Sanders in the Atlantic magazine for failing to support the idea of reparations for slavery as a way to combat white supremacy. Coates wrote that it was hypocritical for Sanders to propose a wide range of policies and ideas that have little chance of ever becoming law — but then offer no support for a radical idea to combat racism.

"Sanders says the chance of getting reparations through Congress is 'nil,'" Coates wrote in the January issue, "a correct observation which could just as well apply to much of the Vermont senator's own platform."

But Render said Coates' criticism was unfair, that Sanders has ideas for dealing with racism and improving the lives of black Americans.

"I'd like to say that fact that (Sanders) doesn't directly come out and say, 'Hey, I can definitely see reparations happening,' doesn't turn me from the fact his policy directly affects black men getting out of jail right now," Render told the crowd Wednesday.

The 40-year-old related rapper to the auditorium packed mostly with 18- to 20-somethings with ease. Render touched on the complexity of what King left behind after he was assassinated 47 years ago.

"I don't accept that 'dream' they sell you on Martin Luther King," he said. "He was a radical … Don't say you want to be like Dr. King unless you really want to be like Dr. King."

He told students who aren't engaged with protests erupting across the country over race relations to stand alongside the black community and "pick up a sign, yell and scream" and then, afterward, "ask to understand."

"As white people, it's time for you to help," Render said, "and we need your help."

He told the crowd they're not going to fix global problems if they don't fix the ones "5 miles" away. He also encouraged students to "leave their team." That meant they should leave behind whatever culture, religion or racial group they may have been raised to believe they belong to exclusively.

"You can create a new team based on truth, based on honesty, based on love, based on integrity," Render said.

Contact Sara DiNatale at sdinatale@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3400. Follow @sara_dinatale.

Rapper Killer Mike tells USF students to cross boundaries, mentor kids, be radical 01/21/16 [Last modified: Thursday, January 21, 2016 7:49pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. VIDEO: Obamacare is "death,' President Trump says

    National

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Monday made a late-hour appeal to senators — targeting members of his own party — to move forward with debate over faltering Republican legislation to overhaul the Affordable Care Act.

    President Donald Trump speaks about healthcare, Monday, July 24, 2017, in the Blue Room of the White House in Washington.[Alex Brandon | Associated Press]
  2. Dragon ride in Harry Potter section of Universal closing for new themed ride

    Florida

    Universal Orlando announced Monday that it will close Dragon Challenge for a new "highly themed" Harry Potter ride to open in 2019 — sending wizard fans into a guessing game with hopes for a Floo Powder Network or the maze from the Triwizard Tournament.

    Universal Orlando announced Monday that it will close Dragon Challenge on Sept. 5 for a new "highly themed" Harry Potter ride to open in 2019. The ride, originally the Dueling Dragons roller coaster, was renamed and incorporated into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter when the hugely popular area opened in 2010.
  3. CDC changes Zika virus guidance for pregnant women

    Federal health officials are changing their testing recommendations for pregnant women who may be exposed to the Zika virus through travel or sex or because of where they live.

  4. Necropsy confirms drowning as Snooty the manatee's cause of death

    Human Interest

    BRADENTON— The South Florida museum aquarium will re-open Tuesday and grief counselors will be available after the untimely death of beloved manatee Snooty.

    Snooty, the Manatee County mascot, turned 60 in 2008. Hundreds of people came to the Parker Manatee Aquarium to see Snooty at his birthday party. He was the first manatee to have a recorded birth date on July 21, 1948.

 [Times (2008)]
  5. Charlie Gard's parents withdraw legal action over their sick baby

    World

    LONDON — The parents of critically ill baby Charlie Gard dropped their legal bid Monday to send him to the United States for experimental treatment after new medical tests showed it could no longer help.

    Chris Gard and Connie Yates, the parents of critically ill infant Charlie Gard, arrive at the Royal Courts of Justice in London ahead of the latest High Court hearing in London Monday July 24, 2017. They  returned  to the court for the latest stage in their effort to seek permission to take the child to the United States for medical treatment. Britain's High Court is considering new evidence in the case of Charlie Gard. The 11-month-old has a rare genetic condition, and his parents want to take him to America to receive an experimental treatment. [Jonathan Brady | PA via AP]