Words

Ground Zero

Civil rights activist Angela Davis speaks at WWU

Hear

What: Angela Davis

When: 12 pm Fri., May. 5

Where: WWU Performing Arts Center

Cost: Free; the sold-out event will also be live-streamed at Wilson Library

Info: http://www.wwu.edu

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

“At a challenging moment in our history, let us remind ourselves that we the hundreds of thousands, the millions of women, trans-people, men and youth, we represent the powerful forces of change,” Angela Davis noted at the Women’s March on Washington in January.

“We recognize that we are collective agents of history and that history cannot be deleted like web pages,” the civil rights firebrand said. “This is a country anchored in slavery and colonialism, which means for better or for worse the very history of the United States is a history of immigration and enslavement. Spreading xenophobia, hurling accusations of murder and rape and building walls will not erase history.

“No human being is illegal.

“The struggle to save the planet, to stop climate change, to guarantee the accessibility of water from the lands of the Standing Rock Sioux, to Flint, Michigan, to the West Bank and Gaza. The struggle to save our flora and fauna, to save the air—this is ground zero of the struggle for social justice.”

Davis recently authored Freedom is a Constant Struggle, which focuses on the importance of building communities of struggle for economic, racial and gender justice. She has published 10 books and has lectured all over the world about the racial, class and sexual politics of prisons as well as issues of violence, poverty, radical philosophy, feminism and community organizing.

Davis is one of the cofounders of Critical Resistance, a national grassroots organization dedicated to abolishing the prison-industrial complex. She focuses with precision on women in prison while she has advocated for the rights of incarcerated people across the world,  drawing upon her own experiences as a political prisoner who was successfully freed through worldwide organizing campaigns. As an ardent feminist and LGBTQ rights activist, Davis was co-chair of the 2017 Women’s March on Washington.

Her presentation at Western Washington University this month is organized by the Justice Speakers Series, a student-run effort that helps facilitate conversations that explore issues of social justice.

“We dedicate ourselves,” Davis promised, “to collective resistance. Resistance to the billionaire mortgage profiteers and gentrifiers. Resistance to the health care privateers. Resistance to the attacks on Muslims and on immigrants. Resistance to attacks on disabled people. Resistance to state violence perpetrated by the police and through the prison-industrial complex. Resistance to institutional and intimate gender violence, especially against trans women of color.

“Over the next months and years we will be called upon to intensify our demands for social justice to become more militant in our defense of vulnerable populations,” she said. “This is just the beginning, and in the words of the inimitable Ella Baker, ‘We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.’”

This article was produced with materials courtesy of Western Washington University’s Office of Communication.

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