By SHANNON STOREY
Political activist, scholar and author Angela Davis gave the keynote address at Dodd Auditorium last night as part of the University of Mary Washington’s commemoration of Black History Month. Davis spoke about experience as a political activist promoting women’s rights and racial justice.
She has lectured throughout the U.S., Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and South America.
Through the Eighteenth Annual Cultural Awareness Series, the University of Mary Washington hosted Davis as this year’s James Farmer Visiting Lecturer and Black History Month Keynote Speaker.
“Perhaps one day we can say that we are celebrating black history 12 months out of every year,” Davis said.
In her speech, Davis began with the origin and relevance of Black History Month, but quickly branched out and touched upon many different political issues. Davis drew connections between the Civil Rights Movement and current political issues, asking, “Why can we not treat health care as a human right?”
Davis claimed that there were many other questions she could ask in connection to the meaning of Black History Month.
Davis has taught at the University of California, Santa Cruz for the past 15 years as a professor of feminist studies and professor of history of consciousness, an interdisciplinary doctoral program.
Before her teaching career, Davis was active in the Civil Rights Movement, associating herself with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Black Panther Party during the late 1960s and early 1970s.
In the fall of 1970, Davis was charged with murder, kidnapping, and criminal conspiracy and spent 18 months in prison. After a 13-month trial, Davis was acquitted of all charges.
“I can remember when I could say that I was on the FBI 10 Most Wanted List and would cower in fear and now I say that I was on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List and people applaud,” joked Davis.
According to the James Farmer Multicultural Center, UMW hosts speakers and performers like Davis, to spread appreciation for all aspects of diversity for the university’s Cultural Awareness Series. In honor of Farmer and the mark he made as a leader in the Civil Rights Movement, the James Farmer Multicultural Center works to keep his legacy alive through campus wide event such as this.
“I came to see someone who’s been very involved in the freedom movement,” said senior geography major Brian Brown. “I was part of the Freedom Rides class last semester and have been interested in the schools involvement in black history.”
Throughout he speech, Davis stressed that people should generate more excitement in the present.
“We think of history as being conceptualized by a few individuals, but history is created by the masses,” said Davis, as she concluded her speech to another standing ovation.