Ayanna Gregory Brings Inspirational Message to Cheyney

Oscar Gamble

September 12, 2013

Top photo, credit:  Corey Carter

Top photo, credit: Corey Carter

Students, faculty and staff at Cheyney University were treated to an inspirational lecture by artist, educator, and activist Ayanna Gregory at 1:30 pm on September 11 in Vaux Logan Auditorium.
The daughter of celebrated Comedian and Civil Rights Activist Dick Gregory kicked things off with an up-tempo song about self-affirmation and kept the energy going with social criticism and food for thought. "America teaches us a lot of things," Gregory told her audience, "but one thing America doesn’t teach us is how to live.”
CU community members sat riveted as Gregory discussed how a dysfunctional education system and racially disingenuous popular culture have combined to “dumb us down"--but tapping into the “inner-God force within us makes it impossible to fail.”
She reminded the audience that they were each “unique in human history” and urged them to maintain and celebrate their individuality.
Gregory likened the brain to a supercomputer and the body to a fine-tuned machine. She urged students to take care of themselves through proper nutrition.
The second half of her lecture focused on social activism. Gregory told the story of how her famous father explained why he dedicated his life to the civil rights movement at the height of his commercial success. He told critics that the preservation of his spirit was more important than the preservation of his career.
Ayanna Gregory continues her father’s legacy of social critique and activism and urges others to be “self- motivating” and exercise critical thinking when it comes to issues of social justice. “Activism from within," she said, "is about asking yourself--‘What are you standing for?’”
Gregory closed the lecture with a rousing call and response, culminating with the audience joining hands with the artist and echoing the mantra of love, fellowship, and self-affirmation.
Then, at 7:30 pm, Ayanna took to the stage in Marian Anderson Music Center for her One Woman Show: "Daughter of the Struggle", which takes an intimate journey into the life of her famous dad and the family that loves him. She used powerful stories and transformative songs to tell the story--often changing roles, voices and costumes.

Her autobiographical performance revealed Gregory’s multi-dimensional existence as a daughter of the Civil Rights Movement. She chronicled important and historical events throughout her father’s life of fame and human rights activism from a daughter’s perspective. As one of 10 children, Ayanna continues her family legacy and finds her own voice as an agent of change in the world.