Rodlynn Joseph
Category: 2021 High School Winner

Rodlynn Joseph

When considering women in history who have broken the rules and changed the perception of society as we know it, who comes to mind? The woman that has inspired me, has taught me to reimagine the world, & has rebuilt an America that fights wholeheartedly for racial & social equity by any means obligatory, is Angela Davis. Angela Davis is an American educator, philosopher, and author of various works, expressing her advocacy in several subjects ranging from class, feminism, race, and the United States incarceration system. Her philosophy has inspired me to recognize my inner strength when I feel powerless, helped me discover ways to respond to society-related issues instead of reacting, and influenced how I motivate myself to live every single day.

The image of Angela Davis speaking in front of a large crowd at Madison Square Garden behind a bulletproof glass was the first time I had seen the embodiment of mental fortitude. Her presence in her former and current professions show me that Black women can be at the forefront of a revolution, and have a clear voice that calls for the advancement of all. She has shown me that there is power in a struggle, and inner strength can cause perseverance with anything, even if your actions, human rights, and abilities to reach out to those who need help are limited.

Although Davis was at substantial risk due to her controversial beliefs following the Civil Rights Movement, she kept a serene demeanor. Davis and her peers’ fought to obtain a society that lives in solidarity with people who represent various races, genders, & identities. According to one of her infamous quotes, she says, “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change… I am changing the things I can no longer accept.” She has shown me that the act of being silent means willingly complying with the issues that society should not tolerate. Angela Davis is consistent with the idea of taking action against injustice instead of doing nothing and remaining unsatisfied with the things you have.

Angela Davis has also shifted the way that I motivate myself daily to live. She has shown me that the quest to achieve a high-quality life stops when I choose to stop searching for it. There are too many issues in the world that call for my contribution to change the world.

The influence that she has had on African American youth from the Civil Rights & Black Panther Party eras to modern-day social justice movements has been unfathomable. Whether it be encouraging the youth to change their lifestyles and not accepting the current problematic state of America or motivating black people to liberate themselves, Davis successfully represents utilizing strong will even when it seems impossible. On a personal level, Angela Davis has been one of the few activists that I sought after following social injustice protests to find the reassurance and validation I still need to this day as a black American.