Zoom bombing interrupts university’s MLK Day event

“I think it’s just sad that people feel like they have to go to these lengths, like, disrupt something like this,” FAU graduate student Emily Latham said.


Volunteers enter FAU’s Campus Recreation Center as they prepare for the MLK Day of Service. Photo by Neal Sinha.

Neal Sinha, Contributing Writer

Editor’s Note: In a previous version of this story, Peniel Joseph’s name was misspelled. It has since been corrected.

A Zoom bombing marred the 2021 MLK Diversity Address and Day of Service, an event held Monday by the Weppner Center.

Woody — the Toy Story character — appeared dancing on-screen during a presentation by University of Texas professor Peniel Joseph on the final years of Martin Luther King’s life and his legacy. In all, the interruption to Joseph’s presentation lasted around ten minutes.

David Bynes, the Assistant Director of the Center for IDEAS, credited Joseph as the man who popularized the phrase ‘black power.’

Joseph suggested that American exceptionalism is “one of the big lies of American democracy” and he suggested that King’s legacy is whitewashed now to help usher in a more peaceful era of civil rights movements.

Emily Latham, a graduate student, attended the last iteration of this event, which took place last prior to COVID-19 precautions. The interruption saddened Latham, especially during an event as important as this one.

“I think it’s just sad that people feel like they have to go to these lengths, like, disrupt something like this,” she said.

Once Joseph finished, university staff split students into two groups. One assembled dolls for children, and others cleaned used footwear to be donated locally.

Even with the unforeseen interruption,  Boca Raton House of Representatives President Pro Tempore Taj Dahshan found some value in the proceedings.

“I think that in a time where we’ve been very concerned with ourselves and how to get by whether that’s financially, emotionally, physically, whatever the case may be,” Dahshan said. “I think it’s nice to have one day where we give back to the community, whether that’s by means of going on to a different site or doing something here on campus. I think it’s nice to be able to give back when we’ve been so self absorbed the past couple months.”

Neal Sinha is a contributing writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected]