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Black Voices

Angela Davis Tried To Warn Us

Photo Illustration by Darius Johari

Tusk Black Voices writer Darius Faulk poetically weaves the past with the present. He brings Angela Davis back to CSUF from 1972 to honor Black History and inspire a new generation of Titans to carry on her revolutionary vision.

Faulk’s speculative fiction for TUSK Black Voices inspired an event, “Angela Davis Tried to Warn Us,” scheduled for Friday, Feb. 12 at 2-3:30 p.m. ASI’s Social Justice and Equity Commission will screen Angela Davis’s 1972 lecture to CSUF, followed by a discussion with Dr. Mei-Ling Malone.

By Darius Faulk

It feels like orientation as the nervous energy of a thousand people causes the gym to expand and contract, making it feel at once both cavernous and intimate. The event was supposed to start a few minutes ago, and the crowd knows it.

All eyes are focused on the doors directly behind the stage when a group of people start to enter. I notice Dr. Mei-Ling Malone, professor of African American Studies, near the front of the group, when suddenly, the crowd spots the glorious crown of Dr. Angela Yvonne Davis and erupts into thunderous applause.

Dr. Malone steps to the microphone, and the crowd gradually dies down.

“Angela Davis represents courage, resistance, and new possibilities,” Dr. Malone introduces. “She calls for true liberation for everyone and unapologetically resists all oppressive structures: capitalism, racism, sexism, homophobia, and the like.”

“Angela Davis is not afraid to advocate for unpopular but necessary ideas like prison abolition and calling for solidarity with working-class white folks and all folks of color,” Dr. Malone continues. “She is a true visionary thinker and won’t accept the unacceptable. She has been my true inspiration for two decades, and she is here to speak to you now.”

Again, the crowd erupts into applause as Dr. Davis approaches the front of the stage. I get a better look, and notice that she appears not as she would today, but as she might have almost 50 years ago.

As if on cue, she begins to speak with the deep rhythmic oration of a Southern Baptist minister.

“Before I get started, I want to thank all of you who participated in the vast national and international movement that demanded and secured my freedom.”

The crowd thunders with more applause, but this time it’s different. Now that they’ve gotten over the initial shock of seeing Angela Davis, the significance of the moment sets in. This is the first time she’s stepped foot on a college campus since being falsely arrested and imprisoned on politically motivated charges.

“I recognize that had not it been for the efforts of thousands and millions of people, throughout the world, I would not be standing here speaking to you this evening,” Dr. Davis says. “This is also an event which has a particular importance for me, to be able to speak here, in California—in Southern California, in Orange County.”

The accompanying smirk delivered with this line is enough to push the crowd past their shock. This might be Dr. Davis in 1972, but she is speaking to the experiences of Cal State Fullerton students today.

“This is especially a victory in light of the mudslide re-election of Richard Nixon. Most people call it a landslide victory, but I think it was a mudslide of racism and reaction.”

Am I imagining it, or is she talking about 2020?

“The major problem we are confronting today, the major problem people throughout this country are confronting is the problem of racism. And I think that if the last four years are any indication of what is to come during the next four years, we can indeed predict a very catastrophic period within the history of this country.”

“Black and Brown, and Asian and Native American people have always been the first victims of oppression and repression in this country. But I think that white people in this country—particularly white working people—should begin to understand that they too are exploited and they too can be victims of oppression.”

“I have talked about an increasingly fascist danger which people in this country must begin to come to grips with. Some people have accused me of using rhetoric which doesn’t have any basis in reality, but I think that we have to be very serious during these very critical moments.”

“We have to understand that there is indeed a very real danger, menace of fascism in the United States today.”

With that introduction, we spend the next hour hanging on to each and every word of Dr. Davis as she eloquently diagnoses the problems that plague our country.

As a new generation of young revolutionary students sit before her, Dr. Davis speaks of the widening wealth disparity, how a majority of welfare recipients are children and Disabled folks, and how politicians want to eliminate the safety nets that help the most vulnerable in our country survive.

She explained how the class in power seeks to divide and conquer those they oppress, and how racism has been the tool used to divide all working people in this country. Used to exploit us for profits.

Dr. Davis’s words speak for themselves, and they apply directly to challenges this country faces today. The same challenges we faced in 1972, when Angela Davis tried to warn us the first time.

Will we listen?

“I hope students feel inspired by Angela Davis to speak out against oppressive power structures despite any consequences and work together in solidarity to unite against inhumane systems such as capitalism and our prison-industrial complex. And I hope students will feel affirmed to think radically and freely, and reject societal violence.

My hope is that we feel empowered by Angela Davis knowing that we can fight for a more humane and compassionate world,” says Dr. Malone of the ASI Black History event taking place on Friday, February 12, that is inspired by this story.

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