Political advocate, analyst and commentator Angela Rye addressed a crowd of students in Student Center East about Dr. King’s legacy and political advocacy within the African American community during Spotlight’s third installment of their Distinguished Speaker series.
Before Rye addressed the university, The Signal had the opportunity to conduct an interview with her directly, where she gave advice for students who wish to be political advocates.
“Use [your voice] to grow people, to inspire people and to challenge them and to hold people accountable, but in love,” she said.
Rye, coming from a family of advocates such as her mother and father, reflected that she had been inspired by many people that entered her life as she pursued advocacy.
While involved in the National Black Law Students Association in law school, a student-run organization, she was further projected into political advocacy.
“We felt like we could take on the world and can do anything,” she said.
With this passion, Rye furthered a potential career in advocacy later working for her mentor Maxine Waters.
It was this same passion that ensued from the very beginning of the program with a performance of the Gospel Chorale, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” from Demetrious Sampson and Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from the Zeta Mu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. It was when Rye graced the stage with eagerness accompanied with an overwhelming applause that truly ignited the event with passion from students, faculty and Rye herself.
Rye began her introduction with an excerpt of King’s novel, “Where Do We Go From Here,” where King advocated for human rights and instilled a sense of hope. In answer to King’s title question as applied to today’s political climate,” Rye said, “We must acknowledge where we come from to know where we are going.”
Rye spoke of students investing in the local black owned business, of incorporating more staff of color and knowing their voices and when to speak. Rye said, in reference to King’s book, “If you respect my tuition dollars, you must respect my person.” Rye emphasized that now is the time more than ever to advocate against, what she called, “the fascism, the racism, the Trumpism in this country”.
Rye spoke of Atlanta, King’s home – and home to many Georgia State students. She made sure to express that one must take care of where he or she lays her head. To reiterate this point, Rye used wit and social media knowledge to relate with students when she said, “We good on MLK Boulevard, let’s make sure MLK Boulevard is good.”
Rye reiterated how advocacy can seem lonely at times due to harrowing tasks and feeling as though no one else is speaking. She reassured students on this thought and said, “while you’re doing this work, you can feel lonely, but you are not alone.”
Students who want to enter political advocacy should “just do it like Nike” Rye said.
Similarly, Rye closed her speech with the same message – making change happen.
“The answer on where we go from here lies within you,” Rye said.
Rye lifted her left fist in the air and ended with the words, “All power to the people.”