Davis Calls Students to Action
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