The Maneater

Activist Angela Davis speaks at MU about continuing MLK’s legacy

Davis: “As we celebrate the legacy of Dr. King, we celebrate our own potential as agents in a collective quest.”

Angela Davis, a scholar and activist, spoke at the Missouri Theater on Jan. 24th for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration about Abolitionist Movements in the 21st Century.

Activist and scholar Angela Davis spoke at the Missouri Theatre on Tuesday night as part of a celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy.

"Why is it important to seek inspiration from the legacy of Dr. King?” Davis said during the speech. "It is important because it is a legacy that is not a legacy of a single individual. It is a collective legacy.”

Davis has been a prominent civil rights activist since the ’60s and has been involved in the Black Panther Party and the Communist Party USA. She has written several books about gender and race issues and is a professor of feminist studies and history of consciousness at the University of California Santa Cruz.

In the lecture titled “Abolitionist Movements in the 21st Century,” Davis discussed institutions of racism, slavery and oppression present today.

"An abolitionist movement in the 21st century would be about fulfilling the promise of the people in this country who have been subjugated,” Davis said.

She began her lecture by asking the audience to reflect on the fact that they are standing on ground native to indigenous people. Davis then went on to discuss the marginalization of Muslims, immigrants, the LGBTQ community, the working class and others.

Davis, who also spoke at the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday, talked about the need for people to understand issues that do not affect them.

“I want to see all the people who came out for the Women’s March to stand up for the rights of immigrants,” Davis said.

Davis discussed the ways in which mass incarceration and capital punishment are remnants of slavery, and the need to abolish them.

“We are over 150 years after the abolition of slavery, and we’re still confronting the ideological relics,” Davis said.

MLK Planning Committee co-chair Stephanie Shonekan said the committee selected Davis last year.

"We always want to choose someone whose work is in the same vein, in the same spirit as Martin Luther King, as someone who wanted to change the world for the better,” said Shonekan, who’s also an ethnomusicology professor and the chairwoman of the Black Studies Department. “That’s why we ended up choosing Angela Davis from a number of really, really strong names on our list.”

Freshman Quay Taylor said she was excited by the crowd Angela Davis brought in.

“[There were] a lot of different people there,” Taylor said. "So that was exciting to me to know that people do want change, and that there’s more than just African-Americans there in support of Angela Davis.”

Davis talked about the need to continue the legacy of activism.

“As we celebrate the legacy of Dr. King, we celebrate our own potential as agents, in a collective quest,” Davis said.

The event also included the presentation of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Service award to Camren D. Cross, head of a local youth track club. Community members nominated Cross for the award due to his “dedication to the Blue Thunder Track Club.”

Edited by Madi McVan | mmcvan@themaneater.com

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