Freshman Convocation’s Speaker Addresses the Importance of Political Activism

Filmmaker, musician and activist Brittany Ann “Bree” Newsome will address California State University, Northridge’s freshman class on Thursday, Sept. 14, at Freshman Convocation — an annual event that welcomes first-year students to the university.

California State University, Northridge's Freshman Convocation keynote speaker, Brittany Ann “Bree” Newsome. Photo Credit: Brittany Ann "Bree" Newsmen's Facebook.

California State University, Northridge’s Freshman Convocation keynote speaker, Brittany Ann “Bree” Newsome. Photo Credit: Brittany Ann “Bree” Newsome’s Facebook.

An estimated 2,500 students are expected to take part in the event scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. The convocation features a presentation of the Dianne F. Harrison Leadership Award, named after CSUN’s current president, to an academically excellent student from last year’s freshman class, as well as Newsome’s keynote speech. Newsome gained national attention when she climbed up the flagpole on the South Carolina State House grounds and removed the confederate flag in 2015.

With her well-known background in public speaking and activism, Newsome was chosen as this year’s convocation speaker as a complement to the freshman class’s common reading, “Between the World and Me,” a book that focuses on race in America from the perspective of the author, Ta-Nehisi Coates.

“He (Coates) weaves a lot of different stories that tie to what Bree Newsome stands for as an activist,” said Vicki Allen, the Matador Involvement Center’s assistant director of student involvement. “Knowing Cal State Northridge’s history of activism, I thought her activism would be a great message for the students.”

The reading will prompt freshman to discuss some of the most important and challenging issues facing our country and community today, said the Freshman Common Reading Director, Susanna Eng-Ziskin.

“I think Newsome’s activism can inspire our own students to fight the injustice they see in the world, which is clearly reflected in ‘Between the World and Me,’” said Eng-Ziskin.

Allen called Freshman Convocation “an important experience for new students because it helps them see their destination. Convocation is designed to welcome them into the academic culture of the university and let them understand what the finish line is.

“I think it’s an important rite of passage moving from ‘You are a high school student’ to ‘You are a college student and your destination is to earn a bachelor’s degree at California State University, Northridge,'” she added. “Our deans, chairs, associate deans and our administration are here to welcome you and to wish you success on your journey.”