Last Wednesday, September 30, Keene State College hosted Dr. Angela Davis, an internationally known political human rights activists, writer and professor at University of California Santa Cruz.

The night’s event, held in the Mable Brown room of the Young student center, focused on certain social problems within the United States, such as over incarceration, classism, racism and poverty, and how these problems are interconnected and cannot be fixed by traditional political action. Davis is one of the founders of Critical Resistance, a political organization within the United States that focuses on abolishing the prison-industrial complex. Her work in this field has turned her into a central figure in the movement against the U.S. prison system.

Keene State College president Anne Huot said that the attendance for the evening’s event packed the house.

“In three years this is the third time I have seen this room full to capacity,” Huot said.

Dr. Hottinger, associate Dean of Arts and Humanities, welcomed Davis to the stage.

“Angela Davis has both challenged and strengthened the discipline of women’s and gender studies, a discipline that struggles with its own racism classism, hetrosexism but strives always to be better her work as a teacher, a scholar and an activist makes us better. At the core of Angela Davis’s work is a commitment to social justice and that relationship between scholarship and activism is central to her work. She brilliantly intertwines  accounts of her experiences with theoretical insight and her activism with deep research,” Hottinger said.

Davis has had her own personal experience with the U.S. court and prison system. In 1970 Davis was the third women in history to be added to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s top ten most wanted list for aggravated kidnapping and first degree murder. The court case found Davis not guilty, but during her time in jail her case had become a national issue that rallied thousands to different political organizations with intent to liberate Davis from prison.

“In order to grasp the complex connections between racism and over-incarceration we have to acknowledge the deep historical roots of racism

Sam Douglass / Equinox Staff

Sam Douglass / Equinox Staff

and punishment,” Davis said. “In order to develop a deeper comprehension of what is often called ‘the crisis of mass incarceration’ we can’t simply begin with current events, we can’t simply start with the present. If you focus primarily on the present you will acquire the mistaken impression that what is is shaped purely by immediate circumstances or what happened not that long ago and that perhaps what has happened in the past is securely locked away from the present.”

Davis’s speech linked many social problems within the United States, as she briefly touched on many issues that are at the forefront of political discussion. Her key points focused on understanding the history of these issues to recreate a successful solution and not to alter the already failed system.

“During the 1980s we witnessed the beginning of the breakdown of institutions that were designed to ensure human welfare such as the health care system, housing, education and at the same time jobs started to migrate to areas of the world where labor was cheaper and where the labor movement was less organized. It is not accidental that the number of union member has declined as the numbers of incarcerated has risen,” Davis said.

Davis was not the only political figure talking in Keene on Wednesday. Only three miles down the road presidential candidate Donald Trump spoke at the Keene high school gymnasium. The two share few beliefs, as Trump is a firm supporter of Capitalist economy and Davis is former communist turned active political socialist.

““I promised not to mention a candidate whose initials are DT because I understand that we may be speaking simultaneously,” Davis said.

Winchendon local Jeffrey McDouglas said, “My friends and I just left the Trump rally, we were the ones outside protesting with the signs outside the high school. I don’t know why anyone would waste their time there when Davis is speaking here, It shows the level of education difference  between holding an event at a college and a high school it’s quite fitting we have her here.”

“Every year we spend 80 billion dollars on keeping inmates incarcerated, for 80 billion dollars we could have universal preschools for every three-year-old and four-year-old in America, for 80 billion dollars we could double the salary for every high school teacher in America, for 80 billion dollars we could eliminate tuition at every single one of our public colleges and universities. We assume that tuition is a necessary thing and we have not reached the point where we can openly call for free public education and that is what public education was supposed to be in the very beginning  that was supposed to be the definition of public education,” Davis said.

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