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Angela Davis and Justice For All

February 21, 2011

On Wednesday evening Civil Rights Activist Angela Davis told an audience at Emerson College that “justice is indivisible.”

The keynote speaker of Emerson’s Black History month is famed for her stint on the FBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted Fugitives List and her involvement in the Black Panther Party during the chaotic late 60s and early 70s.

Photo credit: AP Images

“I’m scared people will forget the past and individuals that got us to our present,” said junior Chris Hyacinthe in his introduction of Davis. “We as a society have made major strides, but we’re not done yet.”

There wasn’t a subject that Davis didn’t speak about, talking about environmental sustainability, racism, the continuing revolution in the Middle East, capitalism, communism and prison abolishment, which she has been a staunch supporter of, even publishing a book, Are Prisons Obsolete?

Davis said she remembers having to eat hotdogs at the end of the counter because she was black. The past still lingers with memories of signs excluding her from places because of her appearance. Not wanting to overstate her important in the civil rights movement, Davis is careful to praise faces unknown during the struggle. “The most important contributions came from people whose names we don’t remember today,” Davis said.

One audience member asked Davis “how can black people get behind plights of others when we are so far behind?”

Davis reaffirmed the idea that justice cannot be carved out for a segment of the population while the rest are left to fend for themselves.

She urged more than 150 students in attendance at the Semel Theater to be “disturbers of the peace.” She called out to students to find something they are passionate about and get behind it, but without forgetting that social justice is connected to everything.

“She wasn’t what I expected,” said Chris Wright, associate director of admissions. “I had visions of someone who is very radical.”

To Jeanette Sanchez the lecture was an important opportunity for Emerson’s community to see how important Davis’s contributions were to U.S. history.

Sanchez, a senior at Emerson and president of Amigos, one of the multicultural organizations on campus, said she was looking forward to hearing stories about the past. “But I’m glad she focused on the issues that were plaguing us today,” Sanchez said.

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