Only a revolution will forge the way to change: An Evening with Angela Davis

Angela Davis speaking to the crowd in Ruby Diamond Concert Hall
Photo credit: JonMichael Francis


The 30th annual Martin Luther King Jr. week celebration continued triumphantly in Tallahassee as the Big Bend welcomed Angela Davis.

The event, An Evening with Angela Davis, was held at Ruby Diamond Concert Hall at Florida State University on Tuesday, Jan. 16. An intimate setting, Davis elated guests with conversation and thought provoking dialogue.

Students, faculty and community members lined the outside of the concert hall as they awaited their tickets and seats. Protesters lined the entryway opposing Davis and her previous ties with the Communist Party, yelling obscenities and calling for those in line to reconsider attending.

That however did little to faze those eager to hear from Davis, with every seat in Ruby Diamond occupied. Some were left sitting on the floor or leaning against the wall to get a glimpse of the longtime activist.

When Davis took the stage, the auditorium erupted in a standing ovation. Upon arriving to the microphone, she took note of the slogan of the event and lightheartedly poked fun at herself.

“Transforming the norm unapologetically, I can definitely relate to that,” Davis said with a smile.

As her lecture unraveled, she spoke of all the injustices that she has witnessed over her years, and in particular the political climate that has come about from the current White House administration.

Her ivory colored afro served as a halo as she preached the benevolence of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and all those that stand with his message.

“The day that memorializes Dr. King should not be a holiday that is viewed as simply recognizing the work of a single individual,” Davis said. “We are paying tribute to all of the activists who stood for injustice.”

Davis alluded to the multiple injustices in this world and compared it to that of Pandora’s box. She stated that many argue that if you do not talk about racism it will simply go away. However, by recognizing race and racial differences, minorities are only dealing with what should have been addressed in the aftermath of the Civil War.  

Since Davis’ involvement in movements around the world for social justice, she offered hope and optimism for the future. Acknowledging current situations while commending the need to continue to press forward, echoed through the balcony.

Patricia Rivero, who is an administrative officer in the Department of Military Science at FSU, was at the discussion in Ruby Diamond Concert Hall.

“I am so glad to have gotten to hear her tonight,” Rivero said. “I just thought she did such a great job.”

Originally taken aback by the number of protestors, Rivero was not deterred to hear from Angela Davis. “I am so inspired by her calm call to be an activist in meaningful ways, and to raise the tension in positive discourse,” Rivero said.

As cheers, claps and snaps were made across the auditorium, all in attendance were holding on to every word Davis said. Every lingering pause between her thoughts proved to be powerful and evoking, encapsulating a truth that seemed refreshing.

“Justice is indivisible,” were the closing words made by Davis before opening the forum up to the public. Community members lined the aisles for the chance to converse with her for a question and answering session.

Sharon Martin, who is a Tallahassee resident, said the messages conveyed during the discussion about institutional racism, the prison industrial complex, and the history of colonization and slavery really resonated with her.

“That was wonderful and such a unique experience to be a part of. Being able to see Angela Davis and hear her message gave me chills,” Martin said. “A sense of change and hope was in the air tonight, and that is very exciting being a woman of color.”

Davis, 73, spends much of her time traveling and lecturing now. Injustices that she has seen angulate throughout the decades are topics of her lectures, advocating for gender equity, prison reform and alliances across color lines.

Davis’ work as an educator has been vast and rich, emphasizing the importance of building communities that struggle for economic, racial and gender justice.