CNN Political Commentator Visits UTC for MLK Day Celebration

By Lacey Keefer, Staff Writer—

On Friday, Jan. 25, CNN commentator Symone D. Sanders visited and spoke to much of UTC’s campus and several other Chattanooga residents.

“So one part of being a radical revolutionist in the spirit of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is willing to buck the status quo and take a risk,” Sanders said as she addressed an auditorium filled with high school students, UTC students and faculty, and community members. 

Sanders was the press secretary for Senator Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential election and is currently a political commentator for CNN. She has been recognized by the Rolling Stones magazine as one of “16 Young Americans Shaping the 2016 Election,” and she is the youngest presidential press secretary in history, according to her website.  

The Office of Equity and Inclusion and the Office for Multicultural Affairs invited Sanders to be the keynote speaker for UTC’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration. They also invited students from local high schools including Girls Preparatory School, Redbank High School, Howard High School and Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy to UTC to hear Sanders speak. 

Sanders had four more characteristics to being a radical revolutionist. Sanders explained how MLK post 1965 was a radical revolutionary, why that was important, and how he embodied radical revolutionaries. Willingness to stand in the gap for others, willingness to be uncomfortable, strategize, and the ability to take on one’s adversaries and one’s allies were the other parts of being a radical revolutionist. 

“I am so excited to be here today,” Sanders said. “I am excited because MLK events are my favorite events to do. And they’re my favorite events to do because the life and legacy of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. is so robust. And he literally, in my opinion, lived his life as a radical revolutionary.”  

Community members and small business owners Melinda Bone and Stephanie Sinkfield said they thoroughly enjoyed Sanders’ refreshing and unique speech. 

“It’s really interesting to watch someone that young be so dynamic and on fire,” Sinkfield said. 

Sanders emphasized the role and the influence of young people for the future. 

“I think that my voice and the space that I occupy, whether I’m in a strategy session or that I’m on television, is important. And I think that’s true of everybody in this room, like your voice and the space that you occupy is important,” Sanders said. 

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