Angela Davis, the 1960’s radical, spoke to adoring students at Texas State University on Friday. She had a lot to say on a wide spectrum of social and political issues.
Billed as a “revolutionary icon” by the student-run newspaper, Davis packed Evans Auditorium for a “Critical Conversation with The Dr. Angela Davis: International Civil Rights Activist, Women’s Rights Activist, Author, Scholar, Historian.”
— Anna Herod (@annaleemurphy) March 31, 2017
Davis’ social justice narrative included praise for Black Lives Matter and the Palestinian “plight,” but she slammed U.S. President Donald Trump, capitalism, guns, and immigration policy. She also touched upon gender and women’s issues.
“The Black Lives Matter movement could not have come at a better time,” said Davis, a hero to the movement and once considered a Black Panther activist. She shared her plans to visit with Patrisse Cullors, one of the founders of Black Lives Matter. Davis said she recently met with Black Lives Matter groups in Belfast and London. “This is here to stay.”
She riffed on the need to “resist” Trump’s presidency. “1,459 days (of Trump’s term) to go; 1,459 more days of resistance,” Davis lamented, also alleging “families are destroyed by the Trump administration’s immigration policy.”
To thunderous student applause, Davis asserted the “resistance” coalesced when “Trump was unable to repeal Obamacare” and also when “people flocked to airports spontaneously” on the first day of the Trump administration’s executive order that temporarily restricted travel from seven Middle Eastern countries. That ban was later frozen by a federal appeals court.
In 1969, UCLA fired Davis from her teaching post over her communist party membership. Although she left the party in 1991, Davis told Texas State students “diversity” can mean a difference that makes no difference at all and “I’m not interested in diversifying in the capitalist apparatus.”
Davis decried Trump as a “billionaire capitalist” and his win as “the ascendancy of the corporate (model). “He thinks he’s running a company; he’s always talking about making deals. We’re supposed to be a democracy,” she said, then cracked, “he doesn’t read.”
During her talk, the former militant also declared, “Capitalism and racism have always been intertwined.”
Davis also mused on communist contributions of the 1930’s, asking the college-age crowd, “Why do you think we have unemployment benefits now?” She said, these ideas came from communists and “people don’t know.”
Expressing strident support for the anti-Israel boycott, divest, and sanction (BDS) movement, Davis said, “We need to support” the BDS movement, and added she likes to mention “solidarity with the Palestinian struggle.” That connection, she claimed, has helped us more than we have helped the Palestinian people.
She also voiced strong anti-gun sentiments tied to her feelings against the U.S. prison system. She quipped, “I have to remind myself I’m in Texas.” She asked, “You all have a concealed carry, a campus carry, right?” She said it made her a little nervous. “There are more guns than there are people in the United States of America and there is something really wrong with that.” She said she “happens to think there is a relationship between the availability of weapons and the numbers of people who are in prison.”
“My goal is to disarm everyone, and when I say everyone, I also mean the police,” said Davis, who, in 1970, made the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List when the feds charged her with murder, kidnapping and criminal conspiracy for purchasing guns later used by men in a prison break that turned into a San Rafael courtroom hostage situation, killing four. Davis fled. Eventually, authorities arrested her. The case became a cause celebre among progressives and she maintained the guns were stolen from her. An all-white jury eventually acquitted her, the San Jose Mercury News reported.
Skyller Walkes, Associate Director of the Office of Disability Services organized the event. Texas State listed sponsors as Disability Services, Office of the Provost and VP for Academic Affairs, Student Diversity and Inclusion, Multicultural Programs Committee, Departments of History and Philosophy, Center for Diversity and Gender Studies, and the Alliance at Texas State. Although it was calendared digitally under the Common Experience, a mandated year-long student initiative, Texas State U. spokesman Matt Flores told Breitbart Texas, Davis’ engagement was not part of that program. Flores said Davis’ $15,000 speaking fee was funded by philanthropic dollars through two discretionary funds, one from the president and the other from the provost.
In 2008, Davis retired from University of California, Santa Cruz, a Distinguished Professor Emerita in the History of Consciousness Department, Humanities Division, Feminist Studies Department. Now, she speaks on college campuses.
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