Benjamin Chavis Jr.

Benjamin Chavis Jr. speaks as part of Arts Lecture Series

by Carter DeJong

Benjamin Chavis Jr. is a renowned civil rights leader, and journalistIU South Bend welcomed him for a very informative lecture in the Education and Arts building on October 4, 2017. 

Throughout his lecture, Chavis Jr. discussed the importance of pure and honest journalism in a time where finding such information can be extremely difficult, the first amendment, and the responsibility journalists have.  

He explained that the pen is the most powerful tool mankind possesses and stressed the importance of responsible use of this tool. 

“The pen not only give you the ability to write, but the ability to express what you believe to be the truth,” Chavis Jr. explained. 

Benjamin Chavis Jr.

One of the main goals of his lecture was to emphasize the importance of the First Amendment. The right to freedom of speech gives us many freedoms but also the responsibility to use those freedoms in an appropriate manner. Just because we have the right to speak freely does not mean there is not a lack of consequence because of this. 

To Chavis Jr., as well as other civil rights leaders, freedom of speech means it cannot infringe upon the rights of others.  

Despite all the things that are happening in the world, he is very optimistic about today’s youth and their goals in lifeHe pushes for youth to attend college and other forms of higher education. 

“Because you are the best, you need the best guidance,” he said about the importance of higher education and the role it will play in creating productive members of society that will push for social change.  

When asked about the importance of journalism in 2018, the midterm election year, Chavis Jr. responded by describing the “formidable” influence the media is going to have on the outcome of that election. Many voters choose their candidates by how much media coverage they receive, not by policies or beliefs.  

Due to this, journalists possess the responsibility to accurately communicate the issues that face the American people. Chavis Jr. believes that the manner in which the media presents information determines the outcomes of elections. Therefore, it is so important to have honest unbiased journalism in a time where it is so easy to become misinformed. 

Chavis Jr. worked as an assistant to Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement of the 60s. He served time in prison for protesting a North Carolina school system for allowing segregation. 

In addition to these achievements, Chavis Jr. was also the youngest president of the NAACP. He is well known for his work in hip-hop. He founded the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN).  Chavis has worked with rappers such as Run DMC and DMX through HSAN to provide a way for hip- hop artists to connect with each other and civil rights leaders to discuss social, economic, and pollical issues that face America’s youth today. 

Currently, Chavis Jr. works as the CEO of the National Newspapers Publishers Association, which supports the hundreds of black newspapers across the country. 

Many students and professors in mass communication at IU South Bend were in attendance at the lecture as well as other students and faculty throughout campus. The points that Chavis Jr. brought up during his lecture will continue to hold their relevance within the near future. 


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