Davis denotes importance of history

by Beacon Staff • February 17, 2011

At issue:

Respected activist Angela Davis speaks on campus

Our take:

Visit demonstrates the lessons Emersonians can learn from the past

Angela Davis is historically awesome.

She was a force in the Black Panther Party, the author of several books opposing the prison system, and was once a member of the Communist Party USA.

After months of effort, Emerson’s Black Organization with Natural Interests (EBONI) succeeded in bringing a woman with over 60 years of diverse experiences, views, and knowledge to our campus. What better way to commemorate African American Heritage month than to hear the perspective from a veteran of the Black rights movement who continues to use her experiences from the 1960s and 70s to affect change today?

Over 150 students gathered in the Semel Theater to learn about our history from the very woman who was a part of it.

Davis’s presence on Emerson’s campus provides us with the chance to reflect on our own culture of change. Emerson students are known for their irreverent drive, their passion for innovation, and their idolatry of the next hot thing. But this fire for the future often comes by parting with the past. On a campus often hell-bent on moving forward, Davis is a reminder that we have much to learn from the generations before us.

So in the spirit of African American Heritage month, let’s learn. Stop editing that script that just isn’t flowing right, stop writing that paper that’s due in five hours and stop doing all that super-creative stuff for your super-creative class at your super-creative school. Put your future on pause and rewind. By understanding the story that preceded us, we’ll be better equipped for the future.

Talk to your elders. We might be masters of the cool-young-hipster-social-online revolution, but that doesn’t make us infallible. Their knowledge beats ours by decades. Let’s recognize and appreciate yesteryear’s innovators by taking the time to hear their stories. Not just the Angela Davis’s of the world, but the professor down the hall and the grandmother back home. Just as Davis said yesterday, “The most important contributions came from people whose names we do not remember today.”

Thank you to EBONI for introducing Davis to our institution. Thank you to SGA for awarding the funds to make this event happen. And thank you to the students who showed up and listened to her speak.

We could all use a little bit of history before we make history.