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Angela Davis defines what freedom really means

By Bobbi Booker
Special to the NNPA from the Philadelphia Tribune

What is the meaning of freedom? Angela Y. Davis’ life and work have been dedicated to examining this fundamental question and to ending all forms of oppression that deny people their political, cultural and sexual freedom. “The Meaning of Freedom: And Other Difficult Dialogues” (City Lights Open Media) is a collection of 12 searing, previously unpublished speeches. Davis confronts the interconnected issues of power, race, gender, class, incarceration, conservatism and the ongoing need for social change in the United States. With her characteristic brilliance, historical insight and penetrating analysis, Davis addresses examples of institutional injustice and explores the radical notion of freedom as a collective striving for real democracy — not a thing granted by the state, law, proclamation or policy, but a participatory social process, rooted in difficult dialogues, that demands new ways of thinking and being.

In the introduction, Robin D.G. Kelly writes: “It is not too much to call her one of the world’s leading philosophers of freedom.”

Davis is the author of eight books and has conducted extensive research on numerous issues related to race, gender and imprisonment. She draws upon her own experiences in the early 1970s as a person who spent 18 months in jail and on trial, after being placed on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted List.” Her most recent books are “Are Prisons Obsolete?” about the abolition of the prison industrial complex, and a new edition of “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.”

“Delivered between 1994 and 2009, these public talks reveal Davis further developing her critique of the carceral state, offering fresh analysis of racism, gender, sexuality, global capitalism and neoliberalism, responding to various crises of the last two decades, and always inviting her audiences to imagine a radically different future,” said Kelly.

“They demonstrate the degree to which she remains a dedicated dialectical thinker. Davis has never promoted a political ‘line,’ nor have her ideas stood still. As the world changes and power relations shift from a post-Soviet, post-apartheid, post-Bush world to the mythical ‘post-racial’ one, she challenges us to critically interrogate our history, to deal with the social, political, cultural and economic dynamics of the moment, and to pay attention to where people are.”

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