Relating to a ’60s radical

By: Sharon Nellist

I was merely ONE among a sold-out crowd listening to the lovely Angela Davis speak her words of great wisdom in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Portland State University on Jan. 21, 2015.

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A year ago when I came to PSU, I never would have thought to attend such an event, simply because I never have before. I also have never thought of myself as a very accurate representative of diversity – I am a white female, how would I make a difference?

Angela Davis told me otherwise.

She spoke about changing the way we see the world by thinking beyond our assumptions – having a broader consciousness because what happens to an individual has worldly reverberations.

She helped me to realize that diversity is not the separation of identity but the coming together of every unique individual.

We are privileged at Portland State University to have an abundance of diverse resources and events to expose ourselves to in our campus community.


Lives matter. And the only way to ensure that they matter is to educate yourself, to have a passion and a voice, and people will hear you. As Angela Davis spoke these words, she reminded me that it is my responsibility, our responsibility, simply because we are a member of humanity.

We have to act as if it were possible to change the world – Angela Davis

#PSUdiversity  – to see what people said about Angela Davis’ keynote address at PSU

Portland + Metal = Awesome


photo by Matt Amott

I push through the dense crowd as the bass thuds in my chest. There’s no point in saying “excuse me”; no one would hear me. I’m caught in the middle of the friendly crush, and I still can’t see the band. Someone grabs my hand and pulls me up to stand on the bench along the wall. I smile in gratitude, and my rescuer gives me the metal horns, pinky and ring finger up, in return. I turn my attention to Heavy Voodoo, who has just finished a song. The crowd cheers and shouts expletives of encouragement. “If you know this one, sing along,” says the singer, Zac Pettini, as the band launches into a Pentagram cover.

From my vantage point, I can see the entire crowd. We’re crammed into the Alleyway on NE Alberta, Street, which I’m sure is about two people away from capacity. The bartenders have stopped serving and are headbanging, fists in the air. I spot people who I have invited. I had been carrying fliers for the Ceremony of Sludge, a two-night music festival featuring Portland metal bands, in my bag for the last few weeks. It had given me a good reason to strike up conversations with classmates and other students who I see regularly around campus but never really talk to. And now here we were, participating in this awesome spectacle together that had nothing to do with figuring out why our physics experiment wasn’t working or asking to borrow lecture notes or ordering coffee.

The metal scene isn’t just about the music; it’s about building a community of mutually supportive individuals. Not everyone is a musician; we all do what we can, even if that’s just coming to shows and cheering on the bands.

How are you helping to build community that extends beyond campus?