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From Black Power to the New Jim Crow + The Meaning of Freedom

Program #TAYK001-DAVA013.

First Program: Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor - From Black Power to the New Jim Crow

The gains achieved by the Civil Rights movement are fond memories and are celebrated by holidays, memorials and pious speeches. Today, the U.S. has its first black president but while he’s attained political power many other African Americans are behind bars. The eternal war on drugs has resulted in the incarceration of many blacks. As law professor Michelle Alexander says, “Rather than rely on race, we use our criminal justice system to label people of color ‘criminals’ and then engage in all the Jim Crow practices we supposedly left behind:” such as discrimination in employment and housing, denial of food stamps, exclusion from jury service, and denial of the right to vote. The prison industrial complex is a profit-making machine dependent on more and more prisoners passing through its system. We’ve gone from the auction block to the cell block.

Second Program: Angela Davis - The Meaning of Freedom

The idea of freedom is inspiring. But what does it mean? If you are free in a political sense but have no food, what's that? The freedom to starve? Or if the candidates on the ballot are yoked to unjust power structures, what's that? The freedom to vote? The colonies in Asia and Africa gained their independence from their European lords but did they gain freedom? Frantz Fanon, who worked with the liberation movement in Algeria wrote prophetically in his classic work, The Wretched of the Earth, that the newly independent states of the post-colonial era will not achieve real freedom if they replicate the patterns of oppression and domination perfected by their former masters. He warned about changing one policeman for another. Replacing white sahibs with brown and black ones.


Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor is assistant professor in the department of African American Studies at Princeton University. Her articles appear in CounterPunch, In These Times, Black Agenda Report, New Politics, Jacobin, International Socialist Review and The Guardian. She is the author of Rats, Riots and Revolution: Black Housing in the 1960s and From Black Lives Matter to Black Liberation.

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