Angela Davis speaks for Martin Luther King Jr. Annual Lecture

angela-davis

Activist and Author Dr. Angela Y. Davis speaks for The College at Brockport Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture. Photo: courtesy of https://commons.wikimedia.org

By Charlotte Luft- NEWS EDITOR

At the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. author and activist Dr. Angela Y. Davis spoke about the fight for social justice. Davis carried her message from the capitol of the United States and brought it to The College at Brockport for the Martin Luther King Jr. Annual Lecture.

The lecture began with a speech and song from the Brockport Director of Educational Opportunity, Reverend Gary Owens, President Heidi Macpherson welcomed some Brockport dancers to the stage performing “Mourner’s Gathering,” choreographed by senior Will Dillard-Jackson and Dr. Naomi R. Williams then invited Davis to speak.

Davis opened the event by acknowledging the struggles of the indigenous peoples in the U.S.

“As we celebrate the tenacity and the fortitude of African American descendant people who have been struggling for freedom for the duration of our presence in the Americas, let us also recognize the courage and determination of the first peoples of this region and let us remember that if we are not indigenous then we are immigrants, voluntary or forced,” Davis said. “So let us all stand together with the Standing Rock Sioux during these difficult times.”

Davis moved into her lecture by discussing the 2016 Presidential Election results and how the election of Donald Trump has effected movements worldwide.

“Sometimes the future that you imagine to be most dreadful turns out to be the future that compels you to reach down deeply into your very being to uncover reservoirs of strength and perseverance you did not know were there, and probably would not have discovered before these disastrous times,” Davis said.

Davis used the Emmett Till case to prove the connection between racism and misogyny.

“Lynching was a consequence of her [Carolyn Bryant’s] inability to realize the connection between racism and misogyny,” Davis said. “And as a matter-of-fact later she [Bryant] divorced her husband, the one who killed Emmett Till, and the grounds for divorce was domestic violence. There’s a connection there.”

A major talking point Davis put into her lecture was the prison system. Davis used her own experience to lead into how the prison industrial complex has infiltrated American society.

“So how long have we been organizing against the prison industrial complex,” Davis said. “Well this struggle goes back to the 1960s and the 1970s when we were attempting to achieve the freedom of political prisoners. I myself became a political prisoner in 1970 as a result of working for the freedom of other political prisoners.”

The power of the collective effort over a long period of time is another point Davis stressed during her presentation. She reminded the audience that change does not happen overnight due to the actions of a single person, but over time when large groups of people band together and force society to progress.

“Change doesn’t happen as result of the actions of a single individual no matter how powerful he or she may be, and I think that it may be important to go back and look at some of the radical transformations in the history of this country,” Davis said.

The 2016 Presidential Election voting statistics proved to Davis that black women make the most informed decisions when they vote. Davis revealed the reason she felt black women made the most informed decisions was not just in what they statistically voted for, but why they chose to vote the way they did.

“If one looks at how black women voted, 94 percent of all black women who voted, voted against Donald Trump,” Davis said. “68 percent of Latino women voted against Trump as well, but I think that black women are the most sophisticated participants in the political process. And I say this because the black women who voted against Donald Trump, and therefore voted for Hillary Clinton, did not necessarily think that Hillary Clinton was their candidate.”

At the end of the lecture Davis took questions from students at Brockport. When answering each of the questions Davis made sure to reiterate points she had been making throughout the lecture: there is a link between misogyny and racism, the foundation of the U.S. lays on the existence of slavery and the under-representation of women of color in the feminist movement.

cluft1@u.brockport.edu

 

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