Academic, activist, scholar and revolutionary, Angela Davis addressed the Occupy Wall Street “annex” in Washington Square Park yesterday. She asked the bone-cold crowd: “How can we be together in a unity that is complex and emancipatory?”
To the question of the language of “occupation,” Davis counseled protesters to be aware that the U.S. is behind military occupations in other countries that are brutal and oppressive, but argued it was also possible to use the word differently. “We turn occupation into something that is beautiful, that brings community together.”
Many in the audience seemed to want advice from Davis, but she encouraged the movement to find its own answers. “We stand behind calls for…the decommodification of education, healthcare,” she said, and noted that the movement’s language carries with it the implicit promise of more work: “If we say we are the 99%, we have to commit ourselves to organizing the 99%”
Repeatedly, Davis stressed the need for inclusion, urging protesters to insist on inclusiveness, to make space for the most marginalized people in society, to hear their voices. To questions about political process, she got a laugh from the crowd when she said, “I agree with you that capitalism sucks,” but she urged the crowd not to let another Republican become president even as she said that the two-party system was broken and called for growing the movement until even conservatives wanted to join it.
“That seems to me what this movement is about: freedom and the redefinition of freedom,” Davis said. She called for support of the November 2 general strike planned in Oakland, CA.
Angela Davis interviewed in a California prison in 1970 by Barry Callahan. This is a fascinating clip.