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Hale Center to host Dr. Angela Y. Davis for 45th MLK celebration

Angela Y. Davis speaks at the University of Roma Tre in Rome on March 14, 2016. Credit: Courtesy of TNS

Ohio State’s Frank W. Hale Black Cultural Center, along with Columbus State Community College, will be hosting Angela Y. Davis as a speaker for the close of the 45th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration on Tuesday evening.

The celebration will be held to end a monthlong celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s work and also serve as an opening for Black History Month in February, said Santierra Hutson, a third-year in strategic communication and student assistant at the Hale Center.

Davis, an activist and educator in the women’s, gender and sexuality studies department at Syracuse University, is prominently known for her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement and Black Panther Party. She was formerly the FBI’s most wanted person in America and has also ran for vice president on the Communist Party ticket twice.

Hutson described Davis’ involvement with MLK’s work, and said she has had a great impact on the African-American community and the American experience.

“I’m excited to have someone that was such a revolutionary, that has made such an impact on our society and someone that has tested the limits as much as (Davis) has,” Hutson said. “I think that’s one of the things I’m most excited for, meeting this woman, who has had such an impact on our history, and the fact that she’s still around and cognitive and capable enough to share her story.”

Davis was chosen as this year’s speaker because she demonstrates MLK’s dream in a way younger generations can relate to, said Lawrence Williamson, director of the Hale Center.

“Back in the ‘60s, she experienced what had actually went on (in) the Civil Rights Movement,” Williamson said.

Curtis Austin, an assistant professor in the Department of African American and African Studies, said anyone, but especially students, can come to Davis to learn more and move beyond the current political climate.

“I think it’s extremely important in this day and age because she is representative of a movement to stand up to intolerance,” Austin said. “She has the history and experience to prove her sincerity, and she also is an excellent teacher. Because this university is a business of teaching students, I don’t think they could have a better speaker, given the current political climate.”

David Crawford Jones, senior lecturer of the department of African American and African Studies said that Davis is one of the seminal figures of activism in many ways.

The celebration will also consist of a gospel tribute to King performed by OSU’s African American Voices of Gospel Choir at The Ohio State University and a candlelight vigil to King by the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.

“It’s very symbolic, and they sound amazing,” said Brooklyn McDaniels, president of the Black Student Association at Ohio State and a third-year in communication analysis and practice. “(The choir) performed at MLK Day of Service and now they’re going to be able to do it in front of Angela Davis. It just speaks volumes to have students that are so talented and African-American to be able to open up for her.”

The event is on Tuesday at 6:50 p.m. in the Mershon Auditorium. It is free and open to the public.

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