The College of Liberal Arts hosted Angela Davis last Wednesday, February 6, 2019, as part of the Engaging the Power of Diversity: A Liberal Arts Speaker Series. The event had been sold-out for months, with an extensive waiting list. Thanks to a generous donation, the College of Liberal Arts was able to start the diversity speaker series and was fortunate to bring a well-known activist to campus.
Conversations around topics of diversity and inclusion are just the beginning, and the College of Liberal Arts is looking to expand upon that by encouraging dialogue across campus and in the community. One of the College's goals for this presentation was to encourage a broad public audience to attend the free event. They successfully had guests fly in from all over the country to hear Davis speak, including a public school in Baltimore, Maryland. Students from the Angela Y. Davis Leadership Academy flew to Reno to listen and be inspired by Davis. Then they received a special tour of the University of Nevada, Reno the following day.
Davis spoke for one hour and then entertained a question-and-answer session for an additional 30 minutes. She spoke about racism in all forms and encouraged society to work together to create change. Other than a few subtle remarks about the President of the United States, Davis spoke optimistically about a future of peace and true social justice for all.
Davis has been deeply involved in our nation's quest for social justice through her activism and scholarship over the last decades. Her work as an educator - both at the university level and in the larger public sphere - has always emphasized the importance of building communities of struggle for economic, racial, and gender justice.
Professor Davis' teaching career has taken her to San Francisco State University, Mills College and UC Berkeley. She also has taught at UCLA, Vassar, the Claremont Colleges and Stanford University. She spent the last 15 years at the University of California, Santa Cruz where she is now Distinguished Professor Emerita of History of Consciousness and of Feminist Studies.
Davis is the author of nine books and has lectured throughout the United States as well as in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and South America. In recent years a persistent theme of her work has been the range of social problems associated with incarceration and the generalized criminalization of those communities that are most affected by poverty and racial discrimination. She draws upon her own experiences in the early seventies as a person who spent 18 months in jail and on trial, after being placed on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted List." Davis has also conducted extensive research on numerous issues related to race, gender and imprisonment. Her most recent book is Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement.
The College of Liberal Arts plans to host the third event in the speaker series in the fall of 2019. The College will present a panel on religion centered around the theme, Beyond Toleration: Finding Common Ground Across Religious and Philosophical Divides. More details can be found on the diversity speaker series website.