CSP Graduate Assistant Manny Cantu helped commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day by attending a highly anticipated campus lecture by renowned actress and philanthropist Viola Davis.
On Monday, January 20, Davis gave an empowering keynote address to the university at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. The talk was part of both IU’s MLK Day festivities and the celebration of the university’s Bicentennial. Before the speech, Cantu had the pleasure of joining the Academy Award-Winning actress for a meet and greet program featuring various organizations from around campus. Students from different OVPDEMA offices and the Department of Theatre and Drama were given the opportunity to meet this year’s keynote speaker and take a picture with her. Davis even had time to answer a few questions from the group before departing for her speech. The experience proved to be memorable and impactful not just for Cantu, but for all students who were invited to meet someone so highly revered in both their profession and in the world of philanthropy.
While on-campus, Davis was also presented with an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts degree, which is the highest academic achievement IU offers. During the speech Davis touched on her own struggles growing up and how she overcame poverty and adversity to get where she is today. She is now involved in many philanthropic programs, benefiting causes close to her heart and helping alleviate many of the same challenges she faced earlier in life.
Davis also spoke of the influence Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had on the human experience. One of her quotes stood out to the audience: “You were born to live a life greater than your own.” For pre-college students a great way to do this is to get involved in their community. Students are encouraged to help at a local food pantry, volunteer to tutor and mentor younger students, or offer their time at an animal shelter. These experiences can resonate long after the work itself, as students gain perspective in service to others, while expanding their professional network and absorbing lessons that have lifelong impact.
Viola Davis is the first black actor to win an Oscar, an Emmy, and a Tony award. She is well known for her acclaimed roles in the movies Fences and The Help, as well as for being the lead actress in the drama TV series “How to Get Away with Murder.”
CSP hopes everyone had a great MLK Day and carries the spirit of Davis' message through 2020 and beyond!