Rob Smith visits University to share story, spark conversation

By Heather Robinson, Contributing Writer

Rob Smith, “America’s Favorite Black, Gay Conservative,” visited the University Wednesday to speak and respond to questions from students and local community members.

Smith, a political commentator, is also a contributor to Turning Point USA. Previously, he gained public attention after being featured on various news outlets including Fox News, CNN, the Huffington Post and Vice.

The visit marked the beginning of Smith’s nationwide tour, titled “From Leftist to Liberated.” In his presentation, Smith described his journey of political self-realization after joining the armed forces at 17 years old. He said during his service, he was exposed to diverse viewpoints of those around him, which challenged his political outlook, leading him to have a more conservative stance.  

In his speech, Smith said he felt more welcomed in the conservative community and doesn’t identify with the “LGBT cult,” referring to the rest of the acronym as the “alphabet soup agenda.”

Smith visited campus with the purpose of sparking conversation among students and inspiring them to broaden their perspectives by sharing his story. 

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    “If my visit can help students open their minds and think about things a little bit differently than they did before either way, then I’ve done my job,” Smith said.

    Madeliene Hubbard, president of the University’s chapter of TPUSA, invited Smith to campus.

    “I want the speech to reach those who feel especially targeted as a conservative on campus,” she said. “(It) can be a very lonely journey.”

    Hubbard said the day before Smith’s arrival, the responses to the announcement of his visit were “overwhelmingly positive,” despite the typical negative reaction to public conservatism at the University. 

    Following this statement, Hubbard discovered a wall outside of the Union that had advertisements promoting Smith had been vandalized, and a new flyer had been posted on top of them.

    The new poster read, “FASCISTS are NOT welcome on our campus … JOIN OUR PROTEST! Stand up to racism, sexism, homophobia and CAPITALISM.”  

    Hubbard said she thinks when occurrences in the global political atmosphere evoke emotional responses in students, they are more likely to become active in politics. 

    This youth presence in politics has become especially visible recently due to an overall increase in political demonstrations, with events such as the climate march and frequent religious speakers on the Main Quad. 

    Hubbard said there are often negative misconceptions about TPUSA. However, they welcome civilized discussion and debate with members of any political orientation. She added the point of the organization is to have a conversation, and it is critical to “humanize” the other side. She also said events, such as Smith’s visit, are a good way to get students involved who typically wouldn’t be interested in politics. 

    “There is so much more to a person than their political beliefs,” Hubbard said. “Once people start to believe that, we can have a much more peaceful society.” 

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