CNN Political Commentator Angela Rye Speaks at BSU Black History Month Lecture Series

Angela Rye, a CNN political commentator, NPR political analyst, attorney and principal and CEO of political advocacy firm IMPACT Strategies spoke to FIU students at FIU’s Black Student Union's Black History Month Lecture Series. Camille Orquera/PantherNOW

Camille Orquera/Staff Writer 

Angela Rye knows how power and change in the black community comes from solidarity and the strength to band together against injustice.

She spoke to students as part of FIU’s Black Student Union’s Black History Month Lecture Series on Thursday, Feb. 13. 

The conversation was moderated by Esi Fynn-Obeng, an FIU alumna whose work as a community organizer has been focused on fighting for economic and racial justice in black communities.

President of FIU’s BSU, Vanessa Lewis introduced both Obeng and Rye to the audience. 

Rye is a CNN political commentator, NPR political analyst, attorney and principal and CEO of political advocacy firm IMPACT Strategies, which seeks to encourage young professionals in the political and activist world. 

She began speaking to students about her privileged upbringing and the impact her parents had on her education and future career. 

“I know my point of privilege is growing up with two parents who were deeply committed to the upbringing of their children and making sure that we were raised around all black everything,” Rye said. 

She said that her parents emphasis on supporting black communities and the black experience is what formed her perspective in politics. 

Rye then discussed how her mother’s and father’s roles as activists within their Seattle community showed her the importance of social justice not only in the black community but other marginalized groups. 

With the 2020 presidential election on the horizon, Obeng asked Rye what should older leaders and movements do to engage young people in getting more involved with the political process. 

“We don’t need to tell young folks how to engage, we need to listen to what young folks are saying when they engage because if we tune them out then they’re gonna be apathetic and that’s not cool,” said Rye. 

Rye stated that if it weren’t for young black people around the 2016 election there wouldn’t be movements such as Black Lives Matter or the push for criminal justice reform. 

The conversation then moved on to the Democratic Party’s current presidential nominees. Rye admitted to not being excited about any specific candidate but said that it did not matter whether or not she felt excited but that the upcoming election is a matter of “life or death.”

Rye then talked about her organization IMPACT, which seeks to help young professionals engage with larger groups in political circles in Washington D.C.

“The nonprofit was designed to connect young professionals of color to each other in three core areas: civic engagement, economic empowerment and political involvement,” she said.

The organization has rolling applications for their unpaid internships so young people can learn important skills from all aspects of the political process and activist movements.

Throughout the lecture, Rye kept stating how important it is for young people of color to realize how powerful solidarity is. She said that there is “power in numbers” and young people need to realize how important empowerment is when it comes to fighting America’s social injustices. 

This was echoed by her father Eddie Rye who called her in the middle of the lecture to give some advice to young aspiring activists. 

“Don’t wait for a leader in a situation of discrimination or any kind of disparity in the nation… address injustice immediately,” he said.

During the Q&A part of the lecture, Rye answered questions from the audience that ranged from reparations, civil rights and what it is like to be a black person in a largely white space. 

She continually went back to the importance of standing with others and being proactive as black individuals in activist spaces. 

“We often times are waiting for someone to do something we can do ourselves. Nobody is coming to save us. We have to save ourselves and you know the dopest part about that? We’re equipped to do that…We’ve been born into brilliance,” Rye said.

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