Conferences & Symposia

Radical Commitments: The Life and Legacy of Angela Davis

Radical Commitments: The Life and Legacy of Angela Davis

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 This substantial collection includes correspondence, photographs, unpublished speeches, teaching materials, organizational records, and audiovisual recordings.

Free and open to the public.

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Schedule

Monday, October 28, 2019

4 PM: Exhibition Opening (at Schlesinger Library)

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

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

4:30 PM: Doors open at Knafel Center

Live webcast of conference will begin at 5:15 p.m. with the following:

5:15 PM: Performances (AT KNAFEL CENTER)

  • 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

6 PM: Roundtable Conversation about Childhood, Case, and Social Contributions (AT KNAFEL CENTER)

  • Bettina Aptheker, distinguished professor and University of California Presidential Cochair in Feminist Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, UC Santa Cruz 
  • Margaret Burnham, University Distinguished Professor of Law and director of the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project, Northeastern University School of Law
  • Fania E. Davis, consultant and founding director emerita, Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth
  • Moderator: Henry Louis Gates Jr., Alphonse Fletcher Jr. University Professor in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and director of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research, Harvard University

Tuesday, October 29, 2019 (AT KNAFEL CENTER)

9 AM: 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

9:30 AM: Session 1: "Revolution"

  • Trevor Fowler, adjunct professor, Wits School of Governance, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (South Africa)
  • Ericka Huggins, activist and educator
  • Robin D. G. Kelley, distinguished professor and Gary B. Nash Endowed Chair in U.S. History, UCLA
  • Robyn C. Spencer, associate professor of history, Lehman College, CUNY
  • Moderator: Brandon M. Terry, assistant professor of African and African American studies and of social studies, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University

11 AM: Break

11:15 AM: Session 2: "Feminisms"

  • Julie Dash, distinguished professor, Department of Art & Visual Culture, 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, 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

12:45 PM: Lunch

2 PM: Session 3: "Abolition"

  • Kathy Boudin, codirector and cofounder, Center for Justice, Columbia University
  • Alicia Garza, cofounder, Black Lives Matter; director of strategy and partnerships, National Domestic Workers Alliance
  • Ruth Wilson Gilmore, professor of earth & environmental sciences and of American studies and director of the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics, the Graduate Center, City University of New York
  • Beth 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

3:30 PM: Break

3:45 PM: keynote conversation

  • Introduction by 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

  • Angela Davis 
  • Neferti X. M. Tadiar, professor and chair of the Department of Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Barnard College and director of the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, Columbia University

5 PM: Concluding Remarks

  • Elizabeth Hinton

Public reception to follow the conclusion of the conference