Angela Davis on Activism


By Laura Meader
Photography by Dhokela Yzeiraj '13

Angela Davis
Angela Davis speaks in Lorimer Chapel.

Activist and scholar Angela Davis lent her voice to Colby’s student-led SHOUT! Weekend when she spoke on campus March 4. Davis, a former Black Panther who was on the FBI’s most-wanted list in 1970, encouraged students to resuscitate the movement that swept President Obama into office—a movement, Davis contends, that has receded in our collective memory.

“Why did we lose the afterglow of that moment so rapidly?” she asked a packed Lorimer Chapel. Echoing the underlying theme of SHOUT! (an acronym for Speaking, Hearing, Opening Up Together), Davis suggested that instead of putting all of their aspirations on the shoulders of one African-American man, Americans should recognize our collective power.

Now professor emerita at the University of California Santa Cruz, Davis, 66, reflected on the duration of her activism and how we seem to fight the same battles over and over. Instead of thinking that the battle for civil rights ended in 1964, for example, we need to think of civil rights for Central American immigrants and for the LGBT community, she said. “Rather than achieving a permanent victory, a definitive victory, what we learn in the process of conducting these struggles is that the terrain of the struggle gets broader.” In this collective struggling, “we learn how to glimpse new possibilities that otherwise would never have become apparent to us.”

During the question-and-answer period, a student asked Davis to advise a group of students with a cause. Davis encouraged the students to use social media to find out how others around the country are addressing this issue. “Create a community,” Davis said. “You’ll be far more powerful than if you are some students on one campus.”

 — Laura Meader

For an insideColby podcast on SHOUT! Weekend, visit

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