Winning Essay by Jayla G. from North Carolina
Like most American kids, I didn’t grow up learning about Angela Davis, Malcolm X, Huey P. Newton or any of the afros and black raised fists that hid behind the few shown in our textbooks. The most I knew about the civil rights movement was that Rosa Parks refused to get up and Martin Luther King Jr was martyred. All of a sudden, the civil rights movement was effectively over, and so were our struggles. That’s the rhetoric that had been pounded into my head since elementary school and it wasn’t until recently that I had ever considered any different. Two people did not start or end the civil rights movement, it was a diverse expanse of people of many races deciding to risk their own safety for that of future generations. Angela Davis is one of those people. Many of the men revered as civil rights leaders were men, and though this does not undermine their fight, women could often be ignored both during the movements and in history textbooks. Angela Davis continues to raise awareness that at the intersection of racism and misogyny, black women suffer most.
The first time I ever participated in a protest was this year. I was a 17 year old with no idea what I was doing but I knew I wanted to do what was right. Even when I was surrounded by people who hold up the same signs as me, there were always others who looked at me with contempt, as if standing up for what I believed in was something to be ashamed of. It was this that made me think of Angela Davis. Angela Davis is a scholar who selflessly devoted her life to activism and the empowerment of black people and it was during this, when I truly understood what that meant. People like Angela Davis who fearlessly stood on the front lines of protests, who preached their cause at rallies and who looked racism, prejudice and hatred in the eye are who inspire me to do what’s right every single day. In the words of Davis herself, “You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time”. Davis has inspired generations to work towards change and equality not only for people of color, but for all Americans. 

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