By: Shamare Holmes
On Thursday, February 1, 2018, Fairfield University’s Open Vision Forum presented Freedom: Seeking Justice in America, An Evening with Dr. Angela Davis. This highly anticipated event was in conjunction with Fairfield University’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration.
The Justice Advisors had been awaiting this day since Christina presented the opportunity in the Justice Advisor group chat. What better way to commence Black History Month than witnessing the incomparable Dr. Angela Davis lecture live nearby our hometown, Bridgeport?
We were awestruck throughout the forum and it really had not resonated that we had been under the sound of Dr. Davis’s voice until after we debriefed days following. Many of us could not fathom the thought of being in the presence of someone of Dr. Davis’ stature so early on in our career. However, we all knew that if we worked hard enough, some day we would make trailblazers like her proud.
The program flowed extremely well and the information shared was truly enlightening. As we transitioned from the lecture, to the panel and finally to the Q&A segment, the Justice Advisors could not help but to soak in all the knowledge gained, history shared, and inspiration surging.
In response to a question posed by an audience member, Dr. Davis spoke about the new age of activists and advocates and how it is vital we stay consistent and united. When asked if she thought the strategies of the Black Panther Party should be implemented in this present day, she replied candidly, “No!” She acknowledged some of the tactics demonstrated by the Black Panther Party to combat injustice and inequality were effective, but not all warranted positive results. She encouraged the youth of today to utilize the tools and platforms in this era, that are most impactful, as an advantage; specifically referring to social media and the Black Lives Matter movement.
One of the most memorable moments of the night was when fellow Bridgeport juvenile justice advocate, Takina Pollock, alluded to the calamitous murder of Jayson Negron, a 15-year-old boy killed by a police officer in Bridgeport. Dr. Davis listened intently while Takina briefed her on his case and the status of the trial. After commending Takina for her work, she said his name! Dr. Angela Davis said Jayson’s name and encouraged those rallying behind his unjustified death stay the path and fight for his life and legacy.
The Justice Advisors will always remember our evening with Dr. Davis as we embark upon a journey to help amplify the voices of children and families directly affected by a faulty juvenile justice system.
Many thanks to Carrie Robinson, Associate Director of the Office of Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs and Co-Chair of Martin Luther King, Jr., Celebration Committee, who made it possible for the Justice Advisors to attend the epic evening. It is because of the generosity of people like Carrie that we could be a part of the conversation-a conversation that Dr. Davis has been moderating for decades.
“We have to talk about liberating minds as well as liberating society.”-Dr. Angela Davis