The University of California, Berkeley, hosted Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, whose appearance was denounced by some student groups and the subject of an online petition, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Farrakhan, 78, was invited as a speaker for the ninth annual Afrikan Black Coalition Conference organized by the school’s Black Student Union.
According to the paper, Farrakhan’s appearance Saturday was denounced by other student groups and the subject of an online petition that garnered 350 signatures.
UC President Mark Yudof weighed in on the Farrakhan appearance, writing in an open letter that "we cannot as a society allow what we regard as vile speech to lead us to abandon the cherished value of free speech."
The Nation of Islam leader seemed to relish the controversy, according to the paper, telling the crowd in the nearly full 700-seat auditorium that opposition to him was a sign of slave-master mentality by white America.
Farrakhan at one point briefly adopted a faux Asian accent and used gibberish after asking the audience if they had ever seen the Chinese picketing, drawing a gasp from some in the crowd.
He garnered a standing ovation at the end.