NDNU Presents “Diversity Speaker Series: Dismantling Systemic Racism”

Belmont, CA, January 24, 2008 — Hoping to promote community activism, Notre Dame de Namur University will kick off its new “Diversity Speaker Series” with activist, author, and social justice pioneer, Angela Davis, January 31 at 7 p.m. in the NDNU Theatre.

The Diversity Speaker Series was developed for NDNU and the community to address and provide dialogue regarding systemic racism. Davis, a former Black Panther associate who spent 18 months in jail for her alleged involvement in the murder of a Marin County judge in the 1970s, overcame the odds and turned her life around. The professor now spends most of her time working for racial and gender equality, and prison abolition.

“Through her activism and her scholarship over the last decades, Davis has been deeply involved in our nation’s quest for social justice,” said Richard Watters, NDNU’s Director of the Center for Student Leadership. “Her work as an educator – both at the university level and in the larger public sphere –has always emphasized the importance of building communities that struggle for economic, racial, and gender equality.

“Our new series will create a larger and more public forum for the discussion of dismantling systemic racism,” added Watters. “Students, faculty, staff, alumni, and members of the Belmont community will be exposed to knowledgeable, well respected, and experienced individuals that can inspire and motivate change.”

Davis is the author of eight books and has lectured throughout the United States as well as Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and South America. In recent years a persistent theme of her work has been the range of social problems associated with incarceration and the generalized criminalization of those communities that are most affected by poverty and racial discrimination.

Like many other educators, Davis is especially concerned with the general tendency to devote more resources and attention to the prison system than to educational institutions. Having helped to popularize the notion of a “prison industrial complex,” she now urges her audiences to think seriously about the future possibility of a world without prisons and to help forge a 21st century abolitionist movement.

She has also conducted extensive research on numerous issues related to race, gender, and imprisonment. Her most recent books are Abolition Democracy, and Are Prisons Obsolete? She is currently completing a book on prisons and American History. Professor Davis’ teaching career has taken her to San Francisco State University, Mills College, and UC Berkeley. She also taught at UCLA, Vassar, the Claremont Colleges, and Stanford University. She has spent the last fifteen years at the University of California, Santa Cruz where she is Professor of History and Consciousness, and Professor of Feminist Studies. –of and about women who live in conditions of poverty. Davis also works with “Justice Now,” which provides legal assistance to women in prison and engages in advocacy for the abolition of imprisonment as the dominant strategy for addressing social problems. Internationally, she is affiliated with Sisters Inside, a similar organization based in Queensland, Australia.

Tickets cost $20 general admission, $10 students and seniors. NDNU students may attend for free. The series is sponsored by NDNU’s Center for Student Leadership. For more information, call (650) 508-3718 or e-mail: csl@ndnu.edu.