PORTLAND, Maine — Hundreds cheered as Dr. Angela Davis took to the Alfond Forum stage at the University of New England for her Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. address on gender and racial justice.
Davis' speech Wednesday coincided with the anniversary of King's visit to the campus in 1964.
Davis' speech drew a crowd of 1,500 people to the Biddeford campus with another 500-some watching via live-stream in Portland -- making it one of the largest events the school has ever seen.
Davis celebrated the achievements of women in the social and political sphere, but then questioned why these movements are often centered around whiteness and white women.
"So my questions are about the connections we make. The experiences of women of color are rich and generative. But why are they considered experiences that relate only to communities of color?" Davis said.
The activist and scholar related gender justice to the prison system and rights for transgender people. She also critiqued the President’s desire for a wall along the southern border of the United States.
"Many of the immigrants are women and children who are fleeing gender violence. And the solution is to build a wall?"
Students had the opportunity to ask Davis for advice about their own social activism.
"How do you go about making sure that your movements and your justice and your compass continue to evolve? Continue to include all of the different 'isms' we’re uncovering?" one student asked.
Dr. Davis answered in part, "We tend to fixate on these terms like diversity and inclusion. And that’s all we talk about. And of course, diversity is important, inclusion is important, but even more important -- justice."