The actor and film director called the groups' protest a double standard, the Daily Herald reports.
The National Italian-American Council and the Italic Institute of America spoke out against Lee's visit during the college's celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King on Tuesday, saying his work stereotypes Italian-Americans. The groups cited the films "Do the Right Thing" and "Summer of Sam" as examples, according to the report.
Lee pointed out during his keynote speech that many famous Italian-American directors also portray these stereotypes. He quoted "The Godfather" and "Goodfellas" and asked why he couldn't use similar expressions.
Lee's lecture lasted almost two hours. He also spoke about King's history and legacy, the Daily Herald reports. North Central's celebration continues through this week.