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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Angela Rye visits St. Joe’s

Angela Rye speaks in Campion Student Center (Photos by Luke Malanga ’20).

A lecture on diversity and black empowerment

Attorney and political commentator Angela Rye spoke to a packed Banquet Hall as part of her “Work Woke Tour” during the Office of Student Inclusion and Diversity’s Black History Month event.

Rye, a regular commentator and analyst on both CNN and NPR, addressed themes of black empowerment and the need to build on Martin Luther King’s work for social justice and equality.

From left to right: Sydney Villard ’19, Angela Rye and Natalie Walker-Brown after the talk (Photo by Luke Malanga ’20).

“Martin Luther King’s portrayal is oftentimes at odds with what his legacy and purpose was about,” Rye said. “It’s hard for me to hear you talk about his dream when there are policies in place to make achieving that dream a nightmare.”

Rye said African Americans are conditioned to believe that power is not something they should seek in their quest for equality.

“Black people are taught to believe power is bad,” Rye said. “Simply seeking justice and just enough to survive is not sufficient anymore.”

Natasha Cloud ’15, past St. Joe’s women’s basketball co-captain, returned to campus to attend Rye’s lecture (Photo by Luke Malanga ’20).

Natalie Walker Brown, director of student inclusion and diversity, said she hoped that students learned more about politics and the [U.S.] justice system, so they are able to act.

“A lot of times when you talk about the state of black America, people know that what is going on is wrong, but don’t know what to do,” Brown said. “Rye uses her voice as a platform to inform and mobilize people.”

Natasha Cloud ’15, a past St. Joe’s women’s basketball co-captain and current starting point guard for the Washington Mystics, said Rye’s lecture inspired her to continue to use her platform in the WNBA to create equality.

“What inspired me most about her lecture was her passion, her drive, and fight to make a change,” Cloud said. “We’re in such an upside-down world right now as a society. I think we need to make a change, and I want to be in the forefront and getting my hands dirty to create equality.”

Cloud said that showing up to events and showing desire to make a change is critical in order to spark conversation on campus.

“The Inclusion and Diversity Program is incredibly important,” Cloud said. “St. Joe’s is a predominantly white school, so having a diversity program and having Angela Rye come in inspires a movement.”

Angela Rye’s audience fills the Campion Student Center Banquet Hall (Photo by Luke Malanga ’20).

Gabrielle Arnold ’19 said that she looks up to Rye’s role as an activist, and was happy that she spoke at St. Joe’s.

“I definitely learned about not internalizing some of the stigmas behind the black community,” Arnold said. “She taught me how to better connect with my community on a day to day basis.”

While the room was almost filled to capacity, there were a few white students. Emily Kuykendall ’18 was one.

Rye with Natasha Cloud ’15, Stephanie Tryce, J.D., and Adashia Franklyn ’18 (Photo by Luke Malanga ’20).

“People who needed to hear the [Rye’s] message weren’t here. I feel as though that might be because of the content,” Kuykendall said.

Mekihia Wilson ’19 said that Rye’s message was for the African American community to have a stronger message.

“We need to be asking for power, not justice,” Wilson said. “Justice is too weak. To do that, we need to come together as a people.”

To those in the room, Rye’s motivational lecture inspired just about everyone to take action and create change.

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