Pasatiempo - - MIXED MEDIA - — Casey Sanchez


A pro­tégé of Marx­ist philoso­pher Her­bert Mar­cuse, she earned her PhD in East Ber­lin, spent time on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugi­tives list, was fired at the be­hest of Ron­ald Rea­gan from her po­si­tion as a UCLA pro­fes­sor of phi­los­o­phy, and served as a two-time vice-pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee of the Com­mu­nist Party. No one has lived a life like An­gela Davis.

The long­time scholar and ac­tivist first came to na­tional at­ten­tion in 1970, when Cal­i­for­nia pros­e­cu­tors charged her with the kid­nap­ping and mur­der of a judge, de­spite Davis not be­ing in­volved in the plot or even any­where near the scene of the crime. On the wit­ness stand, the el­e­gance and elo­cu­tion of the then-twenty-eight-year-old Davis cap­ti­vated the coun­try. After be­ing found in­no­cent of all charges, Davis be­gan a re­mark­able ca­reer that con­tin­ues to this day, mix­ing pub­lic lec­tures, schol­ar­ship, and ac­tivism fo­cused on the prison-in­dus­trial com­plex, Marx­ism, and African Amer­i­can fem­i­nism.

Now re­tired from her long­time post as a pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia-Santa Cruz, she con­tin­ues to write, speak, and pro­voke. Ear­lier this year she pub­lished Free­dom is a Con­stant Strug­gle: Fer­gu­son, Pales­tine, and the Foun­da­tions of a Move­ment (Hay­mar­ket Books). The book fur­ther ce­ments her role as the doyenne of in­ter­sec­tion­al­ity — a civil rights con­cept that looks at how race, class, and gen­der af­fect one’s priv­i­lege, op­pres­sion, and iden­tity. But like a well-trained Marx­ist, she is deeply con­cerned with col­lec­tive ac­tion, too. Her book asks read­ers to think be­yond Martin Luther King Jr. to the na­tion of brave protesters and or­ga­niz­ers who made the civil rights move­ment pos­si­ble. Con­nect­ing the dots to our own era, she posits that if the po­lice and civil­ian killers of Eric Gar­ner, Trayvon Martin, and Tamir Rice had been in­dicted or found guilty, lit­tle would have changed. In­stead, she ar­gues that sys­temic change will only come from col­lec­tive or­ga­niz­ing — not from the ac­tions of in­di­vid­u­als, how­ever heroic they may seem at the time.

At 7 p.m. on Wed­nes­day, Nov. 2, she will ap­pear in Santa Fe as part of the Lan­nan Foun­da­tion’s In Pur­suit of Cul­tural Free­dom se­ries. On stage, Davis will be in­ter­viewed by Bar­bara Ransby, an ac­tivist and pro­fes­sor of his­tory and African Amer­i­can stud­ies at the Univer­sity of Illi­nois at Chicago. The talk takes place at the Len­sic Performing Arts Cen­ter. Tick­ets are sold out (call 505-988-1234 for avail­abil­ity), but the event will be live-streamed at www.pod­cast.lan­nan.org.

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