Activist cites King legacy of questioning authority
Posted: January 22, 2002
Story reprinted from with permission
Tuesday, January 22, 2002
Mike Lafferty, Dispatch Staff Reporter
GRANVILLE, Ohio -- When U.S. armed forces began bombing suspected terrorists in Afghanistan, social activist and author Angela Davis thought of Martin Luther King Jr.
Davis, a former Black Panther and Communist Party member who once made the FBI's 10 Most Wanted, said government efforts to rally support for its anti-terrorism campaign have made Americans afraid to question authority as King once did.
"Here we are decades later (after King's death) and people are still afraid to criticize the war in Afghanistan," she told about 1,000 people during a speech yesterday at Denison University as part of the school's commemoration of King's legacy.
Davis attracted national attention when she was fired from her teaching position at the University of California-Los Angeles and hunted by the FBI on charges of murder, kidnapping and conspiracy. Davis, who was cleared of the charges, said the allegations were politically motivated.
"Richard Nixon publicly called me a terrorist," she said.
King's social activism and opposition to the Vietnam War also drew the attention of the FBI.
"The institutions of repression that targeted Dr. King are still very much in existence today," she said.
Davis, now a professor at the University of California-Santa Cruz, criticized what she called the racial profiling of Arab-Americans in an effort to identify terrorists.
She said blacks have been targets of racial profiling for years.
"The government asked people who were used to racial profiling to assent to racial profiling of Middle Easterners," she said. "Why didn't we all stand up and say 'This isn't right?' "
Davis said that although the nation has made progress in eliminating racial injustice, the United States has a way to go.
Social justice, however, is more than about race, she said. Davis said there cannot be real progress unless employment, economic and educational needs of all Americans are met.
"There is a sense of multiculturalism as only being about appearance, not about making fundamental structural changes," she said.
Davis' emphasis on how global issues affect everyone struck a chord with Quiana Duncan, 21, of Pasadena, Calif., a senior at Denison.
"We can't be blinded by our minor accomplishments, even though we have come a long way," she said.
The university's King commemoration included programs in music and dance Sunday and last night and will conclude Wednesday with a 7 p.m. service in Swasey Chapel.
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