By Karen Stokes
“Struggles always exist on a continuum. We are the materialization of the dreams of those who came before us,” said Angela Davis.
Angela Davis is a living example of struggle for freedom within our history. The author, scholar and political activist shared her thoughts on Black Lives Matter, feminism and the right to protest to a sold out crowd, Wednesday evening at Marquette University’s Al McGuire Center.
The lecture was part of the Marquette Forum, a yearlong series of discussions examining racism and inequality in Milwaukee and nationally.
Davis, born in Birmingham, Alabama and lived during a time where the Black families who moved in the middle class area were targeted for their homes being bombed by white supremacist trying to drive them out of the neighborhood. As a teen she moved to New York with her mother.
Davis who is well acclaimed for her social activism and her membership in the Communist Party in the US in the 1960’s was also an immovable force in the Black Panther movement. In 1979, Davis was placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted List on false charges of conspiracy and prison break. She was acquitted of all charges.
“Richard Nixon repeatedly referred to me as a terrorist,” she said. “But someone like Dylan Roof, he has never been branded a terrorist. Those who planted the bomb at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in 1963 have never been branded terrorists.”
The diverse crowd’s complete focus on Dr. Davis observations were prevalent throughout the entire lecture.
When speaking on Black lives matter, she said the slogan has become a universal call. On a recent trip to Belfast, Ireland, Davis met with their Black Lives Matter chapter, then moved on to meet with a chapter in London.
“Many people have assumed that the call of Black Lives Matter was too particular and too specific. The universal notion of ‘all lives matter’ has actually been clandestinely racialized and gender and class so that all, only refers to a few,” said Davis. “When Black lives are made to matter, it will mean that all lives matter.”
Davis widely known as a feminist praised Black female leaders but mentioned she was disturbed by the representation of feminism that came from Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“I was disturbed by Hillary Clinton’s constant avocation of a glass ceiling and that so many people assumed that’s what feminism was about,” said Davis. “If all you’re trying to do is breakthrough a glass ceiling, it means you’re already at the very top of the hierarchy and everyone else is below you. I do not at all ascent to glass ceiling feminism.”
“Dr. Angela Davis brought some unadulterated truth bombs to Marquette University last night that reverberated throughout the consciousness of any person who had the good fortune to be present,” said Lashell Drake, life coach and counselor.
Nasheka Bryant, founder of the Freedom Fighters related to Dr. Davis’ words. “It was a privilege to just be in the presence of one of our greatest revolutionary scholars Angela Davis.
Freedom dreams is what she stands for and fought for and what I fight for as a Freedom Fighter.”
Davis believes people who demonstrate against the U.S. whether they are in Africa, the Middle East, Asia. Australia or Latin America have every right to engage in public criticism. An example she used was the day after the 2017 presidential inauguration when hundreds of protest marches were organized all over the world.
“This is what democracy is all about,” she said.
Davis recalled the 70’s and the ‘Free Angela’ rallies organized nationally when she was incarcerated.
“People all over the world including Milwaukee organized a ‘free Angela’ campaign,” Davis said. “That movement proved them wrong, men like Nixon, Reagan and J. Edgar Hoover. Because of that movement, I was able to continue my work as a writer, speaker and educator. Movements make a difference.
“Milwaukee is a place where “racism’s inequalities and injustices loom large, but it is also a city where people refuse to believe that the struggle for freedom will suffer defeat,” Davis said.