This is a bloggy bit about perspective and not so much about Angela Davis.
I began teaching at the College of Lake County, a community college in Northeast, IL, in January 2010. I teach two sections of a Statistics course. It has been too long since I have taught and too long since I have been on a college campus. I miss being around campuses where there a wonderful and plentiful opportunities to attend lectures on this or films on that. There are art shows, musical performances, and theater. It is not like I ever attended very much but I miss the knowing about them as well as the guilt and angst that accompanies knowing and not being able to attend.
When I last taught, it was all what I have been calling chalk and talk. There was a text book from which I assigned problems. I presented the material on a blackboard and demonstrated how to do problems similar to those I assigned. Now, I use whiteboards and dry erase markers, Powerpoint presentations, and TI-85 calculators that even have projection capabilities in the classroom. There is, of course, e-mail to stay in touch with students all the time. There is also something called course management software and websites. CLC uses BlackBoard which is a website to post course announcements, facilitate on-line assignments, discussions, and to post any variety of documents and references you could think of to enhance the course. All this has makes for a much richer experience for the students and, at least the first time teaching a course, more to do for the instructor. It is all very cool. Things have changed on campuses.
I was walking through the corridors of the main campus in Grayslake, IL and noticed a poster advertising that Angela Davis would be speaking. I did not really read the poster in great detail. I was in a hurry but thought “wow, that might be interesting to attend.” I was wondering then what Angela Davis was doing these days and how here philosophy and politics has changed, if at all, since the turbulent times when her name was in the news? Angela Davis… a blast from the past. Maybe things have not changed so much on campuses.
A few days later on February 1st, I got an e-mail announcing the same event. I read this in slightly more detail. Angela Davis would be speaking at noon on Friday, February 5th. That was not the most convenient time, but what the heck this was Angela Davis and I was curious to see how she has evolved from back in the day. I think I would try to make it. There was a biography attached. I didn’t have time to read it, but made a mental note (a most unreliable method) to read it later.
On the 4th of February, one day before the lecture, another e-mail was sent to reminding everyone that Angela Husky-Davis would be speaking the next day. Angela Husky-Davis? I then read the e-mail more carefully. “Angela Huskey-Davis was recently the Regional Vice-President of Wachovia Bank and decided to start her own company.” Angela Davis? Vice-President at a bank? That did not make sense. I found it hard to believe that Angela Davis would have changed so much that she would have gotten a job in a bank. I cannot imagine any bank hiring the Angela Davis that I remember.
I was right.
I remembered my mental note to read the attached biography from the previous e-mail. I retrieved the e-mail and read the attachment. Oh my… this was a different Angela Davis indeed. Angela Husky-Davis was just born around the time, August 1970, which the activist Angela Davis was arrested for the kidnapping and murder of Superior Court Judge Harold Haley of which she was found innocent in 1972.
Angela Husky-Davis participated in beauty pageants while a student at Norfolk State University in the early 1990s. Angela Davis was candidate for Vice-President on the Communist Party ticket in 1980 and 1984. Angela Husky-Davis is married to a Pastor, Andre Davis Jr. Angela Davis declared herself a lesbian in 1997. These Angelas could not be any more different. Angela Husky-Davis just started a diversity consulting company, Full Circle Consulting, LLC. Angela Davis is professor emeritus (retired professor for those of you not teaching part-time at a community college) of History of Consciousness at the University of California at Santa Cruz.
I figured I was not alone in my interpretation. February is Black History Month. You tell someone my age that Angela Davis is speaking and we assume it is Angela Davis the activist. I even wonder if any of the teen and twenty year old students know who Angela Davis the activist is. Her fifteen minutes of fame was thirty to forty years ago. I am guessing enough people assumed it was Angela Davis the activist that the next e-mail used the hyphenated Husky-Davis surname to clear things up or at least make people question who it was they thought would be speaking. In my case, it certainly worked.
Needless to say… I did not go to the lecture. I am sure Angela Husky-Davis is an expert in Diversity and I have no doubts that she delivered a stirring, motivating, and meaningful presentation to all in attendance. The simple fact is I have taken diversity training three times. I think, or am deluded to believe, I get it. Plus, I think I would have gotten more diversity training from the emeritus professorial communist activist lesbian Angela Davis. I would have like to have heard what she has to say today. Are her views the same? How have they changed? In which direction? Why?
I will be more careful about reading announcements. It is after all 2010 and not 1973. So, if there is an announcement that Peter Townsend is speaking, I will make sure that is, Peter Townsend, the lead guitar player of the rock group The Who and not Peter Townsend, VP of Corporate Communication, at the Affable Annuity Insurance Conglomerate.
I do hope that they do bring Angela Davis, the elder, sometime. I would still go and hear her.