Before Davis’s presentation, writer-activist Ward Churchill spoke on the power of communication and galvanization, and emphasized the importance of using appropriate language to refer to social injustices. He noted that words such as “genocide” or “apartheid” are often met with resistance, but must be said to avoid a “process to expunge our language of anything that makes things clearly understood.”
Returning to eXpression Against Oppression by popular demand, Professor Angela Davis began her presentation with a criticism of increasing private influence at U of T, despite its official status as a public university. According to Davis, private influence on university campus leads us quickly towards “the kind of academic freedom that suits corporate interests and oligarchies.”
The most salient points of Davis's address revolved around the prison industrial complex in the United States, and its gradual development in Canada. Davis discussed the way that massive investment into prisons throughout the United States has coincided with a severe decline in public education and social services. A $2.1 billion investment by Canada's Conservative government in prisons across the country demonstrates similarly skewed priorities.
Davis closed with a brief mention of the uprisings in Egypt, which she viewed as closely connected to issues of Palestinian liberation and anti-Americanism. Citing Martin Luther King Jr.'s reference to himself as a “disturber of the peace”, Davis asked of the audience “how can we all become disturbers of the peace, and dedicate ourselves to transformative action?”