Famed political activist and scholar Angela Davis took the stage at the Harvard Art Museums’ Menschel Hall on Thursday to share her views about immigrants’ rights. And she didn’t hold back.
“I believe that the major civil rights issue of the 21st century is the issue of immigrant rights,” said Davis, distinguished professor emerita at the University of California, Santa Cruz. “Not only in Europe or the United States, but everywhere — from South America to Africa and Australia.”
But the struggle for immigrants’ rights has to be seen in a larger context of global migration, added Davis, a phenomenon that is bound to continue as vast groups of people flee war and destitution at home for better opportunities elsewhere.
“We tend to see the struggles, but we often fail to see the larger context in which migration takes place, and the persistence of colonial frameworks during this post-colonial era,” said Davis, whose papers were recently acquired by the Schlesinger Library. “It’s important to recognize this as we engage in acts of opposition and activism.”
Davis was guest speaker at a screening of “Asmarina,” an event co-sponsored by the DACA Seminar. The seminar has organized events highlighting immigrant issues such as the future of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an Obama-era executive action that shields young immigrants from deportation. President Trump has vowed to terminate the program, and this past weekend intensified his attacks, calling it “dead.”
The film documents the struggles and joys of the Eritrean and Ethiopian communities in Italy. It was directed by Medhin Paolos, who was born in Milan to Eritrean parents and is now a research scholar in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures.