Radical Commitments | Keynote by Angela Davis || Radcliffe Institute | Summary and Q&A

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November 26, 2019
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Harvard University
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Radical Commitments | Keynote by Angela Davis || Radcliffe Institute

TL;DR

Angela Davis emphasizes the need for hope, interdisciplinary thinking, and community in social movements, challenging conventional definitions of success and addressing the limitations of gender roles within activism. She highlights the role of art and music in generating knowledge and transforming society.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What does success look like for social movements like Black Lives Matter?

Success is not a linear path but rather about asking the right questions and learning from mistakes. Ultimately, success means challenging established norms and continuously striving for justice and equality.

Q: How would you describe your relationship with male civil rights leaders and activists?

Gender disparities have been present within civil rights movements, but there have been both men and women who have supported gender equality. The struggle is not against individuals but against the existing structures that perpetuate inequalities.

Q: How did the distinction between criminals and non-criminals come into being?

The categorization of criminals and non-criminals is a societal construct. It is important to question why certain individuals are deemed criminals, while others who break laws are not subject to the same treatment or judgment.

Q: How do you keep going in the face of exhaustion and the desire to give up?

Taking breaks and finding pleasure in the struggle are important aspects of sustaining activism. Building community and knowing that others will step in allows individuals to rest and avoid burnout.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Angela Davis underscores the importance of hope, emphasizing the need to ask the right questions and embrace mistakes in order to achieve success in social movements.

  • She reflects on her relationship with male civil rights leaders and activists, recognizing both the challenges and the progress made in gender equality within these movements.

  • Davis offers advice on how to persist in the struggle for justice, acknowledging the importance of rest, community support, and finding joy and pleasure in the process.

  • She examines the construction of criminality and questions why only certain individuals are deemed criminals, inviting further inquiry into the social and moral implications of this classification.

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