In exploring the intersection between the Palestinian and Black American struggle, political activist Angela Davis called for demilitarizing the police and weaving the Black and Palestinian solidarity movements in academic syllabuses at a lecture on Nov. 14.
The University of Richmond community listened to Davis speak at Ukrop Auditorium in the E. Claiborne Robins School of Business. Students for Justice in Palestine, the Arab Student Association and the Black Student Alliance collaborated to invite Davis to speak with the UR community. Students picked up stickers supporting Palestinian resistance at the entrance of the auditorium.
Approximately 200 UR community members participated in the event with 80 in-person and the remaining on Zoom. Davis, a renowned activist and professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, spoke to the UR community from Portugal via Zoom.
Seniors and SJP leaders Razan Khalil and Simone Reid, BSA president sophomore Christian Herald and junior Sarah Salah, president of the Arab Student Association moderated the conversations with Davis.
Davis said she supported all three student organizations advocating together on Palestinian and Black resistance and discussed the obstacles both movements faced.
“I don’t think we can underestimate the fact that the solidarity with those who are struggling against the occupation in Israel helps us to expand and deepen our analysis in the United States,” Davis said.
Davis called for an end to the militarization of the police. Whether it be the police in the United States or the Israeli Defence Force in Palestine, one must engage and fight against the structural patterns of police racism, she said.
Davis also said Israel's occupation exists because of the involvement of the United States, citing how the U.S. provides Israel with billions of dollars in aid.
“Without the support, both monetary and ideological support, Israel would not be able to continue in the way that it has in the last decades,” Davis said.
Davis said students can engage with these topics in the classrooms and faculty members should incorporate the events unfolding in Palestine into their syllabus. By weaving such conversations in the classroom, Davis said movements can emerge.
“This is about knowledge,” Davis said, "and movements are not usually successful unless they engage on a number of fronts.”
Khalil said they were a part of the Arab American Action Network back in high school and through this organization, Khalil met Davis and Palestinian activist Rasmea Odeh. Inspired by the activism work they learned in high school, Khalil had a vision of talking to Davis again, this time with the UR community. Khalil reconnected with those who knew Davis from high school.
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“For one thing, this school has the funding to get her,” Khalil said. “I also personally wanted something big for SJP, so we could become more known and established on campus.”
SJP was formed in the spring semester of 2022, but it has been in the works since Khalil’s first year, they said.
“Those who organized the event should be rewarded,” said junior Gabriel Matthews, who attended the event.
Junior Sofi Conway seconded Matthews’ statements and said it was great to see three student-led multicultural organizations working together to bring Davis to UR.
At the end of the event, Davis asked if she could say one more thing, and applauded the four women leading the event.
“Women are rising up and when women rise up, the whole country rises up,” Davis said. “Thank you very much for demonstrating that through your presence.”
Contact international editor Ananya Chetia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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