Dr. Angela Davis Lectures at CSUB Dore Theater

 Dr. Angela Davis lecturing At CSUB Dore Theatre (Dr. Joys Frank Randle photo)
Dr. Angela Davis lecturing At CSUB Dore Theatre (Dr. Joys Frank Randle photo)

By Darlene Williams, Contributing Writer

The line began forming on the campus of CSUB about 4:00 pm for an event set to start at 6:00 pm. 

Suddenly, she walked into the room and everyone inside the Dore Theater at CSUB stood to their feet. The room began to fill with what seemed like an explosion of applause, cheers, and screams of excitement, not only in the Dore Theater but also in additional overflow rooms as well. As Dr. Angela Davis was escorted in and walked down the aisle and took her seat, the applause continued.   I too stood in amazement as the woman I had only read about in books or watched on the nightly news in the 70s walked in with such power, strength, and grace. Here I was witnessing history,  such rich “black history” preparing to lecture on a stage just three rows in front of me about, “Education or Incarceration: Activism and the Prison-Industrial Complex.”

 The 33rd Annual Charles W. Kegley Memorial Lecture honors the legacy of Dr. Charles W. Kegley(1912-1986)  who” provided students and colleagues with a spirited example of excellence in scholarship and teaching and an inspired concern for the importance of the Humanities in the education of the whole person.  The annual lecture brings scholars to CSUB who also exemplify these values.”

Davis, the author of nine books, has lectured throughout the United States as well as in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and South America. Her work deals with a wide range of social problems directly associated with incarceration and the generalized criminalization of communities most affected by poverty and racial discrimination. She draws upon her own experiences in the early seventies as a person who spent eighteen months in jail and on trial, after being placed on the FBI’s,” Ten Most Wanted List”(www.csub.edu/kie). 

Davis addressed several issues within the scope of “prison industrial complex,” a notion she helped to popularize, including prison abolition and gender violence.  

“In touching on the prison crisis, I would like to talk about how it has affected educational systems and how it is impossible to imagine a solution to the prison crisis without reimagining our whole system of education, Davis said.  To begin with, sexual assault and sexual harassment are now finally in the spotlight, am I right? Women all over the world are letting their communities know that these forms of violence have been going on too long and that demands are finally on the table; time is up. This violence, this harassment, this violence has got to stop even those forms that are well-intentioned, as our former vice president, recently learned.”

“This is a dream come true, Dr. Joya Frank Randle(who drove from Palmdale, Ca.) said. As a kid, I read her book, “The Autobiography of Angela Davis,” my parents were activists and always kept me abreast of the times. I would’ve driven all day to see her.”

Davis not only addressed violence against women, she wanted to clarify her use of the category of women,” I am using it in the most capacious way, an inclusive way; meaning women of all racial-ethnic economic backgrounds but also transwomen, black transwomen, transwomen of color, Latina transwomen. As a matter of fact, it is also time to end the marginalization of transwomen,” she said.

“Angela Davis is one of my heroes Dr. Tracey M. Salisbury, Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at CSUB, said.  When she was at Mills College in Oakland, I dragged everybody in my family to see her. She helped shape me when I was an angry black student. I have every book written and signed by Angela Davis.”

 Devan Tayor, Assistant Director of Graduate Student Engagement and Advocacy at Indiana University, stated, “I would not be here without the strength of the black women who raised me. I recognize the sacrifice of black women, their silence; they’re not even placated to the background, they’re ignored and they’re fiercely feared. They continue to push our men and we continue to show that we don’t deserve it. We have to be more vocal and more supportive to our black women”

Donna Polk, a CSUB Sociology student, said ” I learned about Angela Davis when I was a young child and she was incarcerated at the time.  I was among several children afforded the opportunity to visit San Francisco State University as part of a program for inner-city children. One of the interns at SFSU explained to us how important Angela Davis, Huey Newton, and the Black Panthers were. We are all given tee-shirts to wear t that read,” Free Angela Davis”

The event concluded with a question and answer session. I didn’t get to ask a question, but I anticipate “next time.”