On January 8th, 9th and 10th, hundreds of activists, scholars, radicals and revolutionaries gathered in Philadelphia for the Black Radical Tradition conference at Temple University. The conference was a success. Featuring Angela Davis, Robin D.G. Kelley, Vijay Prashad, Charlene Carruthers, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Glen Ford, a call-in from Mumia Abu-Jamal, and many others, the conference interjected into the current moment of Black struggle in the United States a particular reminder of the rich and varied interaction between socialist and anti-capitalist ideas and the goal of Black liberation.
The video above, shot by conference co-sponsor the Media Mobilizing Project, featured an impressive assembly of thinkers and artists engaged in one way or another in these struggles. Keynote speaker Emory Douglas – former Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party – delivered a presentation on the importance of visual art and media in building the party. Douglas, however, was not the only speaker, not even the only speaker who was in the Panthers. In fact what made his detailed presentation and speech pop in its own right was its connection via the other speakers, whose art and activism seeks to insist that the past does not just sit on the sidelines, but pushes those who listen to it to engage in the present. Why is it that art has a particular power to demand this of us? And how is it that today's artists, writers and poets can maintain the through-line of memory and struggle? – The Editors
Emory Douglas was Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party. His art was a constant presence in the party's weekly newspaper. His work has been exhibited in the United States, New Zealand, Australia, the UK, Mexico and in other countries around the globe.
Patrice K. Armstead is a community organizer and MSW candidate in the School of Social Work at Temple University. Her research interest is public housing and its relationship to gentrification and neoliberalism.
Renee McKenzie is Vicar of the Church of the Advocate in Philadelphia. She is an ordained Episcopal priest and has taught classes on Black church history, racial justice, womanist theory and systematic theology.
Ewuare X. Osayande is a poet, political activist, author and lecturer. He is the founder of Talking Drum Communications, co-founder and director of POWER, and creator of Project ONUS: Redefining Black Manhood.
James Dupree is a prominent artist and educator based in Philadelphia. Since 2012, he and many others have been part of the Save Dupree movement to resist the city’s unjust eminent domain seizure, under the guise of “redevelopment”of his studios in Mantua.
Yvonne King is Coordinator of Developmental Programs at the Community College of Philadelphia and former Field Secretary of the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party (1969-74).