Author and activist Angela Davis named keynote speaker of 2020 MLK symposium

Monday, December 16, 2019 - 7:45pm

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Kelsey Pease/Daily

Angela Davis, an author, professor and political activist, will be the keynote speaker at the 2020 Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium at the University of Michigan, Vice Provost Robert Sellers announced Monday afternoon. 

For more than five decades, Davis has been one of the foremost advocates for prison reform and the elimination of institutional racism. Davis was made an honorary co-chair of the 2017 Women’s March on Washington and currently serves as a Professor Emerita in the History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. 

The symposium, themed “The (Mis)Education of US,” will consist of several lectures, exhibitions and workshops on Jan. 20, continuing through the month of March. The events will be coordinated by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

The University’s annual Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium is one of the largest celebrations of King’s life and legacy sponsored by a college or university in the nation. Davis’s address will take place Monday, Jan. 20 at 10 a.m., in the Hill Auditorium.

A multicultural lounge in Mary Markley Hall is named for the 75-year-old political activist. When it was rededicated in October 1991, Davis was visiting campus for a speaking engagement and attended the ceremony.

Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives Associate Director Lumas J. Helaire expressed the administration's excitement about having Davis as the symposium’s keynote speaker next month.

“We are extremely pleased that such an extraordinary leader and educator will join us for this special day of commemoration,” Helaire said. “Dr. Davis is is uniquely poised to speak to our community about the drive and ability to advocate for equality and justice.”

Active in the Civil Rights Movement, Davis was formerly a member of the Black Panthers as well as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. She was also a member of the Communist Party USA.

Davis was named the Myron and Margaret Winegarden Visiting Professor at the University of Michigan-Flint for the 2015-2016 school year. She drew large crowds when she was featured at a series of events held on campus in March 2016. At a public lecture that drew hundreds, she called on students to demand change.

“Student activists are also community activists,” Davis said.