Upper Schoolers Inspired by An Evening With Angela Davis
Equity & Justice Institute Event Emboldens the Next Generation of Activists
“I am so impressed by the degree to which young people are becoming politically conscious and are discovering new and more creative ways of expressing that resistance,” said scholar and activist Dr. Angela Davis during the Crossroads School Equity & Justice Institute’s first event of 2020-21. “It’s young people themselves who are going to decide how to move forward.”
Broadcast first on Sept. 8 and, due to popular demand, again on Sept. 14, An Evening With Angela Davis attracted more than 1,700 viewers from across the world. The hour-long video featured the renowned advocate for economic, racial and gender justice in conversation with the Institute’s Founding Director Derric J. Johnson and Crossroads 12th graders Zack Hauptman, Chloe Rappaport and Nora Cazenave, along with recent alumni Kai McAliley ’20 and Alana Cotwright ’20. Their discussion topics ranged from the importance of community and coalition building in the fight to end systems of oppression to Davis’ past achievements and her legacy.
Davis emphasized the diverse ways people effect political and social change, encouraging young viewers to “follow their passions.” One need not be a conventional political activist, Davis acknowledged: “Art helps us to feel what we don’t yet know how to say. And, in that sense, art is the beacon of light.”
Upper School English Teacher Abby Chew was one of the many Crossroads faculty who incorporated the Davis event into their curriculum this fall. Abby assigned additional reading and listening and invited students to create their own art inspired by Davis’ ideas.
In response, junior Bella Williams created a painting depicting Nelson Mandela, Angela Davis and Martin Luther King Jr. to show that “real change only happens when huge groups of people participate in it.” For her next assignment, Bella plans to create a portrait of Davis.
“Angela Davis is one of many geniuses in this complicated world,” says Bella. “She has advocated for oppressed people, bravely, and without irresolution. I was inspired and motivated by every word in her conversation with my fellow students, and I can’t wait to see what radical change we will make next at Crossroads, and beyond.”