Kansas State University’s Black Student Union helped kick off the first day of Black History month by selecting activist, academic scholar, and writer, Angela Davis for their annual keynote address.
The event took place on February 1 at 7:30 p. m. in KSU’s Student Union Grand Ballroom. The hall of the upper Union was jam-packed by about 6 p.m. with visitors from Lawrence, Kansas City, and other surrounding areas arriving early in anticipation for Miss Davis. Even when I arrived at KSU more than 30 minutes early, I was nearly cut off from entering the ballroom where she was set to speak due to the volume of people in attendance.
The former Civil Rights activist was set to discuss topics mainly related to institutional racism and the criminal justice system, but the evening of the event, the focus of her talk was slightly altered. Her event fell just days after the President’s executive border on immigration which Miss Davis felt it imperative to address.
She discussed topics such as intersectionality, racial constructs, indigenous people, mass demonstrations, and feminism but also included more controversial issues such as police brutality and systemic racism.
The first half of the event she recounted her personal shock felt from President Trump’s first few days in office. She also paid tribute to the indigenous people who have “relentlessly” been fighting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. At one point, she declared that, “We are witnessing the slow death of the white supremacist male.” The crowd erupted shortly after this comment and continued supporting Miss Davis’s inspirational vigor throughout the night.
While discussing the prominence of feminism, the men in the audience were asked to stand and applaud these powerful demonstrations taking place within the new female community. There were many uplifting moments and a large amount of encouraging energy throughout the auditorium. Angela Davis concluded her discussion with many thought-provoking revolutionary ideas, some of which may not be seen in our lifetime.
Each year, we take exactly 28 days to honor and pay tribute to those of color that have left an imprint in time. Though unbeknownst to some, this symbolic time has been around since slaves were first brought into the United States during the original colonization.
After many years of continued systematic inequality in the United States, the Civil Rights movement sought to create uniformity amongst black and white communities. In the mid-sixties, the revolutionary Black Panther party- a group which Angela Davis was closely involved- was conceived to serve as a defense for minorities against the U.S. government. Many comparisons were drawn between this history of black oppression and what we see today. As she closed her talk, she noted the profound role that we possess in the act of standing up against the mistreatment of others while expressing words of encouragement for those fighting the good fight.