By Mark F. Gray, Staff Writer, mgray@afro.com

Provocative, award winning and controversial multimedia journalist Roland Martin is set to offer the impactful parting words to Bowie State University’s class of 2019, when he delivers the commencement address on May 17.

Martin, who continues to operate in the gray area between journalism and activism, will speak to the class of 750 students at Maryland’s oldest Historically Black College.  His voice remains one of the most powerful in advocating for civil rights and political equality after no longer being seen on daily television.

Award winning multimedia journalist Roland Martin is set to speak at Bowie State University’s Commencement on May 17. (Courtesy Photo)

He was once one of the most outspoken political analysts while on television when working at CNN. During his six year tenure he was one of the major liberal voices that kept far right conservatives in check while holding Democrats accountable.  The network was awarded the Peabody Award for its outstanding 2008 election coverage, as Martin was a member of the “Best Political Team on Television” in 2009.

However, Martin was released by CNN after they deemed several of his tweets during Super Bowl 46 in 2012, “regrettable and offensive” and perceived to call for violence against gays. “If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham’s H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him! #superbowl,” one of the tweets said.  “Who the hell was that New England Patriot they just showed in a head to toe pink suit? Oh, he needs a visit from #teamwhipdatass,” said another.

It should be noted that two of CNN’s most prominent personalities – Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon – are openly gay.

After the controversial departure from the 24 hour news network, Martin launched TV One’s NewsOne Now morning program. Despite being opposite major network morning news and lifestyle, it found a niche especially in the African American community, for four years before it was cancelled in December 2017 due to its parent company’s budget cuts and financial issues.

Since then, Martin has launched his Roland Martin Unfiltered digital media show that continues to address issues which affect the urban community via the internet and various social media platforms.  The show is extremely popular with a wide audience, ranging from baby boomers to millennials, who now get their news and information mostly from alternative media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Periscope.  His plain and simple conversations on race and politics has created a greater awareness to a community that is somewhat apathetic about the political process and how race impacts it.

“You have to make it plain for people and explain how government impacts your life,” Martin told the AFRO during the 2018 Congressional Black Caucus weekend.  “It doesn’t matter if you’re young, middle-aged, or older, you have to tie in what people care about and get them to see why the race matters.  What we’ve got to do is ask people what is important to you and then show them how politics has a direct correlation into the issues of their lives.”

Speaking at Bowie State’s commencement is something that seems to fall in line with the way he was raised.  Martin’s parents were professional educators and he routinely uses the journalistic platform he stands on to promote education while remaining one of the harshest critics of  U.S Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

Martin has written three books, including “The First: President Barack Obama’s Road to the White House as originally reported by Roland S. Martin.” He is also a four-time NAACP Image Award winner and has been named Best Host for the last two years. Martin has been named four times by Ebony magazine as one of the 150 Most Influential African Americans.