Rand Paul's Visit To This Historically Black College Was A Learning Experience For Him Too

The Kentucky Senator chats with MTV News at SXSW about his visit to Bowie State.

We’re swiftly approaching the end of President Obama’s second term in office and, in just a few weeks, the Republican and Democratic parties are expected to announce their candidates for the 2016 presidential elections.

One of those candidates will likely be Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who appeared in our MLK Day special on race in America called "The Talk." MTV News had a chance to speak with him at the SXSW Festival on Monday, just days after he visited Bowie State University, a historically black college in Maryland.

When we caught up with Paul in Austin, Texas, he was there to attend the festival and open a new tech-oriented office in the city’s Capital Factory complex. The facility will focus on digital engagement and innovation over the next few years.

On Friday, March 13, though, he had reform on the mind. In a speech to Bowie students, Paul emphasized the need for reform in the criminal justice system, and it seemed to be well-received.

Students were open to what he said to say, but it was a learning experience for Paul as well.

“What I’ve learned is that the promise MLK gave us back in the ‘60s, of everybody being treated equally under the law, we’re getting closer and closer to that,” the senator told MTV News.

He did admit, however, that there’s still a lot of work to be done.

“Under the law, I think it’s pretty good, but there still are two Americas,” he continued. “MLK talked about there being two Americas and there is still somewhat of a separation. There are people in our country -- predominantly people without money, without resources -- who really aren’t getting treated the same by our criminal justice system, who don’t have the same economic opportunities.

“So I don’t think we’ve quite overcome every obstacle that we have, to making everybody equal in our country, and I want to be part of trying to figure that out and coming up with solutions.”

The senator’s father, former Republican congressman Ron Paul, established a great rapport with college students when he campaigned for the 2012 presidential election, but in recent weeks alone, it’s become obvious that racial tensions, for example, are still a pressing issue on campuses.

When asked about the racist frat video that leaked from the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at Oklahoma University earlier this month, and the implications it had for college culture, the Senator reiterated that there is still a lot of change to come.

“I think in many ways we’ve gotten beyond a lot of that, but there still are vestiges of it,” he said. “I think trying to eradicate things like that is still in our best interest and still something we should strive for.”

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