We have to talk about liberating minds as well as liberating society.
As a black woman, my politics and political affiliation are bound up with and flow from participation in my people’s struggle for liberation, and with the fight of oppressed people all over the world against American imperialism.
I think the importance of doing activist work is precisely because it allows you to give back and to consider yourself not as a single individual who may have achieved whatever but to be a part of an ongoing historical movement.
To understand how any society functions you must understand the relationship between the men and the women.
Had it not been for slavery, the death penalty would have likely been abolished in America. Slavery became a haven for the death penalty.
But at the same time you can’t assume that making a difference 20 years ago is going to allow you to sort of live on the laurels of those victories for the rest of your life.
What this country needs is more unemployed politicians.
It’s true that it’s within the realm of cultural politics that young people tend to work through political issues, which I think is good, although it’s not going to solve the problems.
Racism, in the first place, is a weapon used by the wealthy to increase the profits they bring in by paying Black workers less for their work.
Yes, I think it’s really important to acknowledge that Dr. King, precisely at the moment of his assassination, was re-conceptualizing the civil rights movement and moving toward a sort of coalitional relationship with the trade union movement.
Radical simply means ‘grasping things at the root.’
You can never stop and as older people, we have to learn how to take leadership from the youth and I guess I would say that this is what I’m attempting to do right now.
I think that has to do with my awareness that in a sense we all have a certain measure of responsibility to those who have made it possible for us to take advantage of the opportunities.
Jails and prisons are designed to break human beings, to convert the population into specimens in a zoo – obedient to our keepers, but dangerous to each other.
What I think is different today is the lack of political connection between the black middle class and the increasing numbers of black people who are more impoverished than ever before.
The work of the political activist inevitably involves a certain tension between the requirement that position be taken on current issues as they arise and the desire that one’s contributions will somehow survive the ravages of time.
Poor people, people of color – especially are much more likely to be found in prison than in institutions of higher education.
The campaign against the death penalty has been – while a powerful campaign, its participants have been those who attend all of the vigils, a relatively small number of people.
That’s true but I think the contemporary problem that we are facing increasing numbers of black people and other people of color being thrown into a status that involves work in alternative economies and increasing numbers of people who are incarcerated.
We know the road to freedom has always been stalked by death.
Well I teach in the History of Consciousness Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz. So that’s my primary work. I lecture on various campuses and in various communities across the country and other parts of the world.
In a sense the quest for the emancipation of black people in the U.S. has always been a quest for economic liberation which means to a certain extent that the rise of black middle class would be inevitable.
My name became known because I was, one might say accidentally the target of state repression and because so many people throughout the country and other parts of the world organized around the demand for my freedom.
I’m involved in the work around prison rights in general.
Now, if we look at the way in which the labor movement itself has evolved over the last couple of decades, we see increasing numbers of black people who are in the leadership of the labor movement and this is true today.
And I guess what I would say is that we can’t think narrowly about movements for black liberation and we can’t necessarily see this class division as simply a product or a certain strategy that black movements have developed for liberation.
Well of course I get depressed sometimes, yes I do.
I never saw myself as an individual who had any particular leadership powers.
Racism is a much more clandestine, much more hidden kind of phenomenon, but at the same time it’s perhaps far more terrible than it’s ever been.
Well for one, the 13th amendment to the constitution of the US which abolished slavery – did not abolish slavery for those convicted of a crime.
First of all, I didn’t suggest that we should simply get rid of all prisons.
Well, we see an increasingly weaker labor movement as a result of the overall assault on the labor movement and as a result of the globalization of capital.
Well of course there’s been a great deal of progress over the last 40 years. We don’t have laws that segregate black people within the society any longer.
I decided to teach because I think that any person who studies philosophy has to be involved actively.
When Bush says democracy, I often wonder what he’s referring to.
I’m suggesting that we abolish the social function of prisons.
As soon as my trial was over, we tried to use the energy that had developed around my case to create another organization, which we called the National Alliance against Racist and Political Repression.
I grew up in the southern United States in a city which at that time during the late ’40’s and early ’50’s was the most segregated city in the country, and in a sense learning how to oppose the status quo was a question of survival.