Activist Sonia Sanchez Addresses Students at Community College

Political activist, Sonia Sanchez, delivers keynote speech for the National Organization of Women’s National Conference for women of color.

The National Organization of Women (NOW) held its annual conference for women of color on March 19, 2006 at the Community College of Philadelphia. Political activist, educator and author, Sonia Sanchez delivered the conference keynote speech to an auditorium of women and men at the Winnet Student Life Building.

Claudette Dia-Taylor, acting dean of the Division of Adult Community Education, estimates that nearly 300 men and women were in attendance for summit workshops and lectures. “I think that it was a phenomenal summit,” she says, “it was a coming together of a diverse group of women from all areas and across the sectors – education, corporate America, the civic community….I think that we all came on one accord.”

People of all races working and living together has been a major concern for speaker Sonia Sanchez. During the 1960s she actively participated in several movements fighting for equal rights of blacks in America. She has carried her message across the world, lecturing at prominent institutions like California’s San Francisco State University and Temple University in Philadelphia, where she taught for more than 20 years before her retirement in 1999.

Sanchez began her keynote speech with a litany of the names of authors, scientists and other influential persons who have done great things to champion human rights and activism throughout the world. Quoting from James Baldwin’s Price of the Ticket, Sanchez makes it clear to her audience that “history as we know it is not only something to be read.” In Sanchez’ own words she declares that we are a “living history” and challenges every man and woman of today to answer the core question: “What does it mean to be human?”

In searching for the answer, Sanchez addressed of many of the injustices that mankind has allowed. Touching upon such topics as the wars in Uganda and Iraq, abortion, homosexuality, affirmative action and the media, Sanchez’ bold assertions startled several members of her audience.

“What we’re trying to answer with all these workshops,” Sanchez says, “and all these talks now is to answer the question, what does it mean to be human. And talk about how we’re going to save this earth and our children.”

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