MLK commemoration highlights social activism

Angela Rye

UIC celebrated the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Jan. 21 with a talk from Angela Rye, principal of Impact Strategies, CNN political commentator, and NPR political analyst.

Rye currently serves on the Boards of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Institute. As an activist for African American equality, Rye was seen as a great inspiration to many of the attendees of the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration.

Once Rye entered the stage, she was asked by event co-host Nicolette Metoyer, “What does social activism look like today in comparison to Dr. King’s social activism?”

“We live in a generation now where people expect for things to happen at microwave speed,” Rye said. “The moment you post that tweet, that Instagram story, or that TikTok you expect for something to move, and when we read about our history, especially under the leadership of Dr. King, all of the folks we worked with we think that it happened instantaneously, and that is not true.”

Rye’s commentary criticized the current need to have instant gratification.

“Dr. King did not have change overnight,” she said.

Rye also highlighted the fact that “Dr. King moved with the tribe.”

“We, as a people, have started to discount our ability, our power and what it means if we are joined together as a collective,” she said. “What that impact could really be if we joined forces economically, socially, spiritually, and really figuring out ways to ensure our collective freedom.”

Rye said she’s always been committed to social justice.

“I felt like I didn’t have a choice. My parents named me after Angela Davis. My dad is an activist in Seattle and was marching yesterday with a bullhorn. That is my paradigm and that’s not everyone’s paradigm,” she said.

Rye challenged the audience to find their “why” and reflect on how they can better serve their community.

“Young people have always been at the forefront of activism,” she said.

Whitehorne then mentioned how Rye was known for her clap-backs. Rye said that she was nicknamed “Black America’s favorite cousin” by some of her online supporters and that the comebacks come naturally to her.

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