Civil Rights Activist Angela Davis visited Brown University over the weekend. The retired professor, best known for her work with the Communist Party and Black Panther movement, was supposed to give a lecture focusing on the prison industrial complex.
Davis, however, also took the podium to discuss the current political climate and activism among young people. The two-hour event ended with questions from the audience, including some Central Falls and Providence high school students.
While discussing the prison industrial complex, Davis pointed out disparities that still exist in sentencing among people of color compared to their white counterparts. She made a case against systemic injustices in prison sentencing before moving to the current political state.
Throughout her talk, Davis applauded the activism inspired by the current election. She stressed the importance of protests like the Women’s March on Washington but reiterated a critique heavily debated in the ranks of the left- the lack of women of color at the forefront.
“When we use the category ‘women,’ it is rarely, if ever, represented by a woman of color,” said Davis citing the importance of representation in political movements.
Davis also stressed creating a sense of community within activism to a crowd of young people who expressed feelings of exhaustion during the Q&A.
“During the coming period, our primary job will be to build community, to create community … in ways that allow us to understand that the work that we do now does matter, even if we cannot see in an immediate sense the consequences of the work we are doing,” she said.
Davis added that students’ activism would “matter eventually” if they stayed involved. She said that the key to sustaining a movement is to avoid a sensory overload in a time when something new is happening every hour. She added that love of the work was key to the students’ activism efforts.
“You can’t just be doing it because you think that’s what you’re supposed to be doing,” Davis warned.