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Events & exhibitions
event • Conferences & Symposia

Radical Commitments: The Life and Legacy of Angela Davis

  • Monday, October 28, 2019 through
    Tuesday, October 29, 2019
  • Knafel Center
    10 Garden Street
    Cambridge, MA 02138
Woman seated and speaking into microphone
Angela Davis speaks during the keynote conversation at "Radical Commitments: The Life and Legacy of Angela Davis." Photo by Tony Rinaldo

Over the past half century, national and international struggles for freedom have been deeply shaped by revolutionary action, the contributions of feminist analysis, and, most recently, calls for prison abolition.

No single person sits more squarely at the intersection of these pivotal movements than the political activist and pioneering philosopher Angela Davis.

“Radical Commitments” will use Davis’s life and work to ground discussions on the rich tradition of activism and social theory in the late 20th century, bringing together a cross-generational group of leading scholars, activists, musicians, and incarcerated women.

The conference also marks the opening of an exhibition highlighting materials from the Papers of Angela Y. Davis, an archive recently acquired by the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe in partnership with the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research. This substantial collection includes correspondence, photographs, unpublished speeches, teaching materials, organizational records, and audiovisual recordings.

#AngelaDavis
#RadicalCommitments

Event Videos

20191029 Radical Commitments 7696 1 Radcliffe Tr

ROUNDTABLE CONVERSATION ABOUT CHILDHOOD, CASE, AND SOCIAL CONTRIBUTIONS


INTRODUCTION
Elizabeth Hinton, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences, Departments of History and of African and African American Studies, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University


SPEAKERS
Fania E. Davis, consultant and founding director emerita, Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth


Margaret Burnham, University Distinguished Professor of Law and director of the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project, Northeastern University School of Law


Bettina F. Aptheker, distinguished professor emerita and Peggy and Jack Baskin Foundation Presidential Chair in Feminist Studies, UC Santa Cruz


MODERATOR
Henry Louis Gates Jr., Alphonse Fletcher Jr. University Professor and director of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research, Harvard University

20191028 Radical Commitments 7967 Radcliffe Kg

PERFORMANCES


WELCOMING REMARKS

Jane Kamensky, Jonathan Trumbull Professor of American History in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Pforzheimer Foundation Director of the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University


PERFORMANCES

“Ode to Angela” by Harold Land


“Sam Jones Blues” by Bessie Smith, composed by Andrew Bernard, J. Russel Robinson, and Roy Turk


“Pirate Jenny” by Nina Simone, composed by Marc Blitzstein, Bertolt Brecht, and Kurt Weill


“Strange Fruit” by Billie Holiday, composed by Lewis Allan


“Ostinato (Suite for Angela)” by Herbie Hancock



FEATURING

Stefon Harris, jazz vibraphonist


Vijay Iyer, Franklin D. and Florence Rosenblatt Professor of the Arts, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University


Nicholas Payton, jazz trumpeter and instrumentalist


Cécile McLorin Salvant, jazz vocalist


Esperanza Spalding, professor of the practice of music, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University


MUSICAL DIRECTOR
Terri Lyne Carrington, founder and artistic director, Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice

20191029 Radical Commitments 6237 Radcliffe Tr

WELCOMING REMARKS
Tomiko Brown-Nagin, dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Daniel P.S. Paul Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School; and professor of history in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University


Jane Kamensky, Jonathan Trumbull Professor of American History in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Pforzheimer Foundation Director of the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University


FRAMING REMARKS
Elizabeth Hinton, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences, Departments of History and of African and African American Studies, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University


SESSION 1: "REVOLUTION"

Trevor G. Fowler, visiting adjunct professor, Wits School of Governance, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (South Africa)


Robyn C. Spencer, associate professor of history, Lehman College


Robin D. G. Kelley, distinguished professor and Gary B. Nash Endowed Chair in United States History, UCLA


Ericka Huggins, activist and educator


Moderator: Brandon M. Terry, assistant professor of African and African American studies and of social studies, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University


20191029 Radical Commitments 6854 Radcliffe Tr

SESSION 2: "FEMINISMS"

Julie Dash, distinguished professor in the arts, Spelman College


Gina Dent, associate professor of feminist studies, UC Santa Cruz


Farah Jasmine Griffin, William B. Ransford Professor of English and Comparative Literature and African-American Studies, Columbia University


Barbara Ransby, distinguished professor of African American studies, gender and women’s studies, and history, University of Illinois at Chicago


Moderator: Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Victor S. Thomas Professor of History and of African and African American Studies, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University


20191029 Radical Commitments 7197 Radcliffe Tr

SESSION 3: "ABOLITION"

Kathy Boudin, codirector and cofounder, Center for Justice at Columbia University


Ruth Wilson Gilmore, professor of earth and environmental sciences and director of the Center for Place, Culture and Politics, the Graduate Center, City University of New York


Beth E. Richie, professor and department head of criminology, law, and justice and professor of African American studies and gender and women’s studies, University of Illinois at Chicago


Moderator: Tommie Shelby, Caldwell Titcomb Professor of African and African American Studies and of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University

Woman seated and speaking into microphone

KEYNOTE CONVERSATION WITH ANGELA DAVIS


INTRODUCTION
Kaia Stern, Elsa Hardy, and Abbie Cohen, reading from the work of The Pathways Collective, a group of incarcerated women studying Angela Davis’s life and writings


Kaia Stern, practitioner-in-residence at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, cofounder and director of the Prison Studies Project, and visiting faculty member and lead of the Transformative Justice Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Harvard University


Elsa Hardy, doctoral student in the Department of African and African American Studies, Harvard University


Abbie Cohen, community partnership lead at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University


KEYNOTE CONVERSATION

Angela Davis, distinguished professor emerita, UC Santa Cruz


Neferti X. M. Tadiar, professor and chair of women’s, gender & sexuality studies, Barnard College



MUSICAL PERFORMANCE

Esperanza Spalding, professor of the practice of music, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University


Terri Lyne Carrington, founder and artistic director, Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice


Imani Uzuri, vocalist and composer; 2019–2020 fellow, Hutchins Center for African & African American Research, Harvard University

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