WATCH: Civil rights activist Angela Davis speaks to UTSA students about the struggle of freedom

UTSA is celebrating diversity and inclusion for Black History Month

Angela Davis will deliver the keynote address at University of Michigan's MLK Symposium on Monday. (Angela Davis)

All month long, the University of Texas at San Antonio has held virtual webinars around a range of topics related to Black people, culture and the civil rights movement.

Dr. Angela Davis, the longtime activist who made a name for herself in her mid-20s during the Civil Rights era, hosted an hour-long webinar this week titled “Freedom is a Constant Struggle.”

Davis is an outspoken political leader, activist, feminist and author, who is currently a professor at the University of California-Santa Cruz.

Born in Alabama in 1944, before segregation was outlawed by the U.S. Supreme Court, Davis has worked toward race equality nearly her entire life.

Here are three takeaways from the speech, which you can watch in full in the player below.

The meaning of freedom is always evolving

“We have to include a whole range of issues in order to accommodate a constantly transforming and growing notion of the meaning of freedom,” Davis said.

She explains freedom as a never-ending battle. Davis said that through her experiences — being a child of segregation — the idea of freedom is always evolving. Because every day something new comes along suppressing individuals and groups. Though the battle is tough, the achievement is even greater.

“Freedom is collective,” Davis said, “but freedom is about transforming conditions so that communities might be able to live lives that in more habitable conditions.”

The fight against racism is a community effort

When asked what advice she would give young adults now to stay optimistic in the fight against racism, Davis said to remember that the fight is a community effort.

“I always remind myself that I do not approach this work as an individual and that there’s nothing particularly significant that I could ever accomplish as an individual alone,” she said.

That sense of community helps her — and potentially could help others — stay optimistic in the fight against racism, she said. Knowing she’s not alone is all the motivation she needs to keep moving forward, she said.

The power of women of color

Davis also spoke about the civil rights movement in the 1960s and pointed out how the leaders of the movement were all men. Still, the masterminds behind the scenes were women, Davis said.

They were the planners and organizers of most things related to the movement, and that’s still a reality today, she said.

“I’m thinking about our most recent election,” Davis said. “Who was it that brought out, you know, all of the people who voted in unprecedented numbers. And who helped to shift the balance of power in the Senate?”

Davis said she is grateful that society and culture, at large, is beginning to acknowledge the work Black women and other women of color have done to make the U.S. and world a better place.

UTSA hosted other virtual events with topics about Black hair in corporate America, the invisibility of Afro-Latinx and the Black experience in sports and more. Find those here.

This virtual event was sponsored by the Student Union and Student Activities and moderated by Kelly Nash, a UTSA professor and associate dean of faculty affairs.

Find more content like this on our Black history page.

About the Author:

Alexsis Page has been a News Producer at KSAT since 2019. A former military brat, she was born in Killeen, raised in El Paso, but calls Lawton, Oklahoma, home. She began her journalism career as an editor and later news producer at KSWO in Lawton and also produced at WICS/WRSP in Springfield, Illinois.