Angela Davis makes appearance at SUNY Geneseo for Heritage Month Speaker Series

A theater is full of students ignoring smartphones. They’re all paying attention to one voice.

“It’s never been easier to access information with those computers you have in your hands,” Angela Davis, the object of their engagement, said under a spotlight.

A famed activist and author, Davis spoke at SUNY Geneseo’s Wadsworth Auditorium Friday afternoon as part of a Heritage Month Speaker Series.

Davis emphasized the importance of questioning capitalism, gender norms and the tendency to prioritize individual pursuits over society’s collective goals.

“Once we begin to challenge that, we can challenge a whole lot of other things,” she said.

Activist and educator Angela Davis speaks at Pilgrim Baptist Church in Nyack Dec. 1, 2022. Davis spoke in Nyack after a planned speech in the North Rockland school district was cancelled amid criticism that she was too radical for the county and its children.

Activist and educator Angela Davis speaks at Pilgrim Baptist Church in Nyack Dec. 1, 2022. Davis spoke in Nyack after a planned speech in the North Rockland school district was cancelled amid criticism that she was too radical for the county and its children.

Who is Angela Davis? Activist, author

Davis, a former college professor and scholar, was one of the prominent figures in the civil rights movement in the 1960s and 70s. She was arrested and held in jail for over a year in the early 1970s after guns belonging to her were used in an armed takeover of a courtroom in Marin County, California, in which four people were killed.

Nationwide, massive support emerged as thousands mobilized to advocate for her release. By February 1971, over 200 local committees in the U.S. and 67 abroad rallied to secure Davis’ freedom.

Davis was granted bail after 16 months in custody and released from county jail in 1972.

“I started to practice yoga when yoga mats didn’t even exist,” Davis said regarding her jail time.

On June 4, 1972, Davis was found not guilty. She credited her newfound practices of yoga and veganism — initiated during her time in jail — for an awakening.

“These kind of practices help us become more connected with the world,” Davis said.

To conclude the moderated discussion Friday, Davis denounced racism and criticized lawmakers’ assaults on Critical Race Theory.

“I like to look at the night sky because it reminds me of how tiny we are on this planet,” She said. “If we’re so small, why do you engage in all these petty ways of oppressing people?”

— Robert Bell is a multimedia journalist and reporter at The Democrat & Chronicle. He was born in Rochester, grew up in Philadelphia and studied film in Los Angeles. Follow him at @byrobbell on X and @byrobbell on IG. Contact him at [email protected].

This article originally appeared on Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Angela Davis makes appearance at SUNY Geneseo

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