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Davis Calls Students to Action
Angela Davis delivered a timely keynote address to top off RISD’s Martin Luther King week. | photo by Andy Jacques
Though many RISD students may not realize it, Angela Davis was a regular part of
their lives long before she spoke at RISD on January 23. She visited to top off our campus
celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Week, a series of events supported by the Center for Student Involvement.
A larger-than life portrait of the
famed civil rights activist by RISD alum Shepard Fairey 92 IL (see below) forms the
centerpiece of the mural at Nice Slice, the pizza place on Thayer Street that’s
a regular haunt of many RISD students. But for the students who filled the RISD Auditorium to capacity for her powerful talk last month, seeing Davis in the flesh was far more
inspiring than a late-night pizza run.
Even before she spoke, Davis was greeted with a full standing
ovation as soon as she made her appearance on stage. Once the audience had quieted down, she, in
turn, applauded RISD’s atypical approach to recognizing King’s birthday and his ongoing legacy, as well as the choice of theme for the
week: building communities of activism for social change.
In her talk, Davis drew parallels between the collective
activism of the 1930s, the 1960s and the Occupy Movement started last year. She
spoke of the need for design in building communities for social change and of
its importance in constructing two-way relationships between those with power
and those without.
Finally, Davis ended her presentation by encouraging
students to stand up and take action. To reinforce that she read a quote from the
black, feminist poet June Jordan, so that as students left the auditorium in small groups, we were all inspired by her words ringing in our ears: “We are the
ones we have been waiting for.”
—Samantha Dempsey 13 IL
tags: public engagement
, social responsibility