A group of students, faculty, and staff traveled to Manhattan, Kan., on Wednesday, Feb. 1 to attend a keynote lecture event hosted by The Kansas State University Black Student Union.
The speaker was internationally known Angela Davis. As a political activist, academic scholar, and author, Davis travels the globe talking to audiences about economic, racial, and gender justice. Her keynote on Feb.1 was titled “Institutional Racism in the Penal & Criminal Justice System.”
Newman University Academic and International Advisor Ami Larrea worked closely with the Newman Black Student Union (BSU) Executive Committee to arrange the details around the trip.
“I saw this on Facebook and immediately knew we needed to go,” said Larrea.
The group consisted of 18 people, which Larrea said was a decent amount of people for the short timeframe they had to plan.
“I learned about the event only six days in advance,” she said. “We talked with [Associate Professor of Theology] John McCormick with the Gerber Institute, and they sponsored the vans so we could make the trip happen.”
Newman student Sydney Triggs sits on the executive board for the Newman BSU. Triggs said she gained a sense of reassurance that the campus club is heading in the right direction and doing what they need to do within the community to make a change.
“The main message I got from it was awareness,” she said. “Bring awareness to your surroundings; if you’re uncomfortable in a situation, you should change it.”
Triggs said she was also personally inspired by the experience as a young black woman trying to make a difference.
“[Davis] talked about her fears and struggles and they really resonated because that can happen to anyone.”
The trip was co-sponsored by the Gerber Institute for Catholic Studies at Newman and the Newman BSU, and a meal was also provided to the 14 attendees that traveled via university vehicles. Larrea said even though they had 18 individuals from Newman attend, only 14 traveled in the vans provided.
Devin Smith is the graduate assistant for diversity at Newman, and said he went because he wanted to hear Davis’ words of inspiration in person.
“She was very motivational,” he said. “She told us that we have a responsibility, not just black people or white people, but all of us together. And in order for us to make a change, we have to press on and continue to fight for equality. I truly enjoyed listening to her speak!”
The BSU is planning many exciting events, which include teaming up with Campus Ministry and the Campus Activities Board for a Mardi Gras event at the end of February, and a “wind-down” party before finals week in May.
Triggs said she would like to see the BSU membership grow.
“Anyone can join,” she said. “Just come to our meetings.”
The club meets every other Friday at noon in the Tarcisia Roths, ASC Alumni Center. Their next meeting will take place on Friday, Feb. 17.