UNE presents activist Angela Davis as part of MLK Jr. Celebration

Angela Davis

On January 23, the University of New England will present a lecture from world-renowned political activist, academic and author Angela Davis as part of its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration. Davis will present “Freedom is a Constant Struggle” at 12:30 p.m. in the Harold Alfond Forum on the Biddeford Campus. 

UNE Director of Intercultural Student Engagement Erica Rousseau, M.A., said that hosting Davis holds special meaning to her. “This is very personal for me,” she explained. “Growing up and learning about heroes like Harriet Tubman and Angela Davis, I knew that black women can change the world, and so I knew that I could too. Bringing Angela Davis to campus is a significant event in my life, and I know that seeing her in person and hearing her speak will be a momentous event in the lives of our students and our community members.”

The upcoming event prompted UNE President James Herbert, Ph.D., to contemplate the commitment of the university’s precursor institutions (St. Francis College and Westbrook Seminary) to welcoming Franco-Americans and women, respectively, at times when immigrants and women were often absent in higher education. He noted that Davis’ upcoming lecture presents an opportunity to reflect on the university’s historic devotion to inclusion and its dedication to a future of diversity and fairness. “Angela Davis’ visit to UNE reminds us of our remarkable institutional history -- a history of including those who are excluded and championing those who are shunned,” he said. “We are also reminded of our aspirations and what we seek to be – a university that instills in every single one of our students the drive and ability to advocate for equality and justice. It is a great privilege to host such a pivotal figure in the history of American activism.”

Through her activism and scholarship over the last decades, Davis has been deeply involved in our nation’s quest for social justice. 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.

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 1970s as a person who spent eighteen 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.

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 fifteen years at the University of California, Santa Cruz where she is now Distinguished Professor Emerita of History of Consciousness, an interdisciplinary Ph.D. program, and of Feminist Studies.

A lunch from 12 to 12:30 p.m. will precede the lecture and will be available on a first-come, first served basis. The speech will be livestreamed to Innovation Hall on the Portland Campus. The lunch and lecture in Biddeford as well as the livestream in Portland are free and open to the public, but spaces are limited.

About UNE’s Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration
The Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration is held in honor of King’s visit to St. Francis College (UNE’s precursor) in May 1964 and to encourage discussion of racial equality in the 21st century. The celebration is coordinated by the Office of Intercultural Student Engagement with support from students, faculty and staff.

Read about it in the Journal Tribune, Kennebec Journal and Portland Press Herald

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