Liberation Chic

Angela Davis at a political rally in Raleigh, North Carolina on July 4, 1974. Photo courtesy of Bettmann/CORBIS.

To an earlier generation, Angela Davis, born today in 1944, is largely remembered as the woman at the center of one of the mid-20th century’s most notorious court cases, an experience which led the President at the time Richard Nixon to refer to her as a “dangerous terrorist.”  She was also a lightening-rod for controversy during her days as a professor in California and even ran for president (twice) on the Communist Party ticket.

However, she describes her interaction with members of a later generation in a different way:

…it is both humiliating and humbling to discover that a single generation after the events that constructed me as a public personality, I am remembered as a hairdo.


Outreach and Engagement Assistant

Pro-Voting Female Demonstrators

Does social media rule your life? Progressive Pupil is offering an Outreach and Engagement Internship for an undergraduate or graduate student in New York City this Spring 2013. Progressive Pupil makes Black studies for everybody by creating and sharing documentary film and digital media projects. The organization is a public engagement project headed by Professor Robin J. Hayes at the Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy.

Responsibilities Include:

  • Assist staff with writing and editing of Progressive Pupil’s blog
  • Help with Social Media Outreach and Education on Facebook and Twitter
  • Provide general administrative assistance to staff

To apply, please send a resume, 1 page maximum writing sample and links to any social media you manage (Facebook, Twitter, personal blog, etc.) to by January 30.

Demanding our Freedom

Now, when we come to Washington, in this campaign, we are coming to get our check.

The Poor People’s Campaign and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s work continues today. Project South, an organization working to eliminating poverty and genocide, encourages all people to get involved with their volunteer opportunities, popular education programs and street teams. To learn more about how poverty continues to affect us in the 21st century, Dr. Cornell West and Tavis Smiley’s Poverty Tour highlight the plight of poor people of all races, colors, and creeds.

A Letter from Birmingham Jail

Happy birthday Martin Luther King, Jr. Your courage, faith and activism continues to inspire us today.

Happy birthday Martin Luther King, Jr. Your courage, faith and activism continues to inspire us today.

16 April 1963

My Dear Fellow Clergymen:

While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities “unwise and untimely.” Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.

I think I should indicate why I am here in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against “outsiders coming in.” I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Frequently we share staff, educational and financial resources with our affiliates. Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented, and when the hour came we lived up to our promise. So I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here. I am here because I have organizational ties here.


Honestly Talking About Black Mental Health

Mental illness does not know how to discriminate. Yet many still think mental disease only affects a certain type of person. It is not something that is supposed to happen to a lovely, talented, bright, Black female artist and mother. But this is Bassey Ikpi. Living with Bipolar II disorder and depression, she was moved to become a vocal activist for mental health awareness when her friend’s 15 year old daughter, Siwe, lost her battle with depression and took her life. Soon after, Bassey founded The Siwe Project, a global nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness and opening dialogue about mental health and treatment throughout the African diaspora. Bassey spoke with Progressive Pupil about her mission.


Happy Everything!

The staff of Progressive Pupil from left to right: Principal Organizer, Robin J. Hayes; Interactive Design Intern, Xiaoye Lin; Program Coordinator, Vedan Anthony-North; Outreach and Engagement Assistant, Malikah Shabazz; Community Outreach

May all our futures be bright! Wishing you peace and joy this holiday season.

Yours in Solidarity,

Robin, Xiaoye, Vedan, Folashade and Malikah

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Total Liberation

A 1971 Poster by OSPAAAL, depicting the murder of Black Panther George Jackson at San Quentin prison.

We cannot foresee the future, but we should never give in to the defeatist temptation of being the vanguard of a nation which yearns for freedom, but abhors the struggle it entails and awaits its freedom as a crumb of victory.


Today in 1966, the Organization of Solidarity with the People of Asia, Africa and Latin America (OSPAAAL) was formed in Havana, Cuba and attended by delegates from 82 countries.  Their objective was simple – total liberation.  An organization of national liberation movements and shared ideology, they fought against colonialism, globalization, racial segregation and capitalism.  They had a vision that solidarity and cooperation among nations could lead to better lives for everyone; that their fate was intertwined with their neighbors across the sea.  From Cuba to Palestine, they worked to support economic development in emergent in the spirit of internationalism. Their posters were printed in several languages, folded inside the Tricontinental, and sent to subscribers around the world.