Dr. Angela Davis, a prominent educator, author and public speaker, is the keynote speaker for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga MLK Day 2023 celebration taking place at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 24, in the UTC Fine Arts Center’s Roland Hayes Concert Hall.
This will be the 10th year for UTC’s MLK Day keynote speaker series and the first in-person event since 2020 due to COVID-19 protocols. The venue has reached capacity for the event.
This year’s program theme is “A Call for Civility.” The discussion and Q&A will be moderated by Dr. Felicia McGhee, associate professor and head of the UTC Department of Communication.
“Since this is the 10th year celebration, we wanted to make it memorable and bring someone in that was in the height of that era—talking, speaking, doing a lot of the work and seeking similar outcomes and goals that Dr. King achieved in his work,” said Christopher Stokes, assistant director of the UTC Office of Multicultural Affairs. “In that space, we get to hear from those voices in that time to share the importance of all of us working together to accomplish those goals.
“Angela Davis was a powerful voice then and continues to be a powerful voice now. Through her academic accomplishments and her work as a speaker, she has been a pioneer and trailblazer for underrepresented groups.”
Davis, who has authored 10 books and numerous articles and essays, is the Distinguished Professor Emerita of History of Consciousness—an interdisciplinary doctoral program—and of Feminist Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. During the last 25 years, she has lectured in all 50 states in the U.S., Africa, Europe, the Caribbean and the former Soviet Union.
Her teaching career has included stints at San Francisco State University; Mills College in California; University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Los Angeles; Vassar College and Syracuse University, both in New York; the Claremont Colleges in California; and Stanford University.
“Even though her background is in feminist studies, she’s done a lot of work in other areas to support and create equitable spaces for others,” Stokes said. “She has been a voice for our students’ parents—and possibly their parents’ parents—and has made a major impact creating a voice for equality, a voice that was pivotal in continuing the civil rights conversations.”
In recent years, a theme of Davis’ work has been the range of social problems associated with incarceration and the generalized criminalization of communities most affected by poverty and racial discrimination. She is a founding member of Critical Resistance, a national organization dedicated to dismantling the prison industrial complex.
Since 2013, UTC has held a special MLK event on a day separate from the federal holiday. Previous UTC MLK Day keynote speakers have included New York Times bestselling author Meena Harris, prominent educator Cornell West, political strategist Symone Sanders and journalist Roland Martin.
UTC MLK Day 2023 is presented by the Office of Multicultural Affairs in collaboration with Africana Studies, Center for Career and Leadership Development, Department of Communication, Department of History, Division of Diversity and Engagement, Enrollment Management and Student Affairs Student Programs, Honors College, Mocs Dining, Ochs Professor of Government, Office of Dean of Students, Office of Equity and Inclusion, Student and Family Engagement, Women and Gender Equity, and Chattanooga’s Bessie Smith Cultural Center.