Keynote speaker ignites debate among students, faculty

Taylor Kreider January 31, 2013 0

Angela Davis visited Elizabethtown College, leaving a trail of controversy behind. Angela Davis is known for her desire to bring justice across the nation, as well as the industrial prison complex. She wants a world without imprisonment. Mrs. Davis has first hand experience with the prison process having been in jail for 18 months and also her name on the Americas Most Wanted list for a time Not only does Angela Davis make sure her words are heard stopping at no cost, she was also an educator at the university level. Along with being an educator in the collegiate level, she has written several books on her lectures.
Angela Davis was brought to the College by the diversity department in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. week. Diane Elliot stated “that there is a Martin Luther King planning committee on campus and we meet every year. It is composed of faculty, students, staff, and administration. We get together to discuss the national model or theme. For the last two to three years it has been ‘Remember! Celebrate! Act! King’s dream for our world.’ There was interest in lifting the social justice aspect of the college. There were faculty that were interested in incarceration and inmates.” From this, the College decided to choose Angela Davis because she had been one of the “founding framers of the concept of the industrial prison complex,” Diane Elliot said. She has devoted her career to these subjects, which made her one of the primary candidates for the planning committee to invite to the school.
While the planning committee was very excited to bring in such a well-known speaker, not everyone felt this way. Many students and faculty members were actually offended and upset about some of her viewpoints and comments. A student, who wishes to remain unnamed, did not feel as though Davis should have ever been invited to speak at the college in the first place. He felt that Davis’ opinions directly contradicted the mission statement of the college, which includes, “In keeping with the heritage of the Church of the Brethren, a historic peace church like the Quakers and Mennonites, the College affirms the values of peace, non-violence, human dignity, and social justice and seeks to make those values manifest in the global community.” Davis believes that violence sometimes must be used in certain situations, which does not coincide with the mission statement.
Another point of distaste from unhappy members of the audience included the racial remarks Davis made in her speech. While I was unable to attend the event, many people made their complaints about the speaker’s choice of words very clear. Besides the comments on race, some attendees were offended by Davis’ political views. People thought that she was degrading them based on their personal views.
Angela Davis was chosen to speak at Elizabethtown College as part of a week of remembrance. Unfortunately, many people were upset by her speech. It has been a very controversial issue. Instead, I urge people to focus on the reason Davis and the other speakers came to our school: to remember the great deeds of Martin Luther King Jr., and the positive impact he made on our country.

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