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‘Women finally recognised as leaders of movements’

Talk of community led her to the subject of the new political dispensation in the US

mumbai Updated: Dec 17, 2016 00:03 IST
Anesha George
Author Angela Davis delivers the eighth Anuradha Ghandy Memorial Lecture at KC College in Mumbai on Friday.
Author Angela Davis delivers the eighth Anuradha Ghandy Memorial Lecture at KC College in Mumbai on Friday.(Arijit Sen/HT )

Protest art on the walls and a song of political satire welcomed American feminist, activist and author Angela Davis to KC College, Churchgate, on Friday.

The 72-year-old took the stage in a hall packed with students, faculty and people who had come just to hear her deliver the eighth Anuradha Ghandy Memorial Lecture, titled Black Lives, Dalit Lives: Histories and Solidarities.

Among those present was marketing executive Rahul Sharma, 29. “Angela Davis has been an idol for years,” he said. “She is an inspiration for today’s youth when it comes to expressing yourself freely and standing up for the things that matter.”

Tracing links between the African-American fight for equal rights in the US and the similar fight for Dalit rights across India, Davis began her talk by discussing how one of the most noteworthy developments in recent years was that women were finally being recognised as leaders of social movements.

“After decades of being the backbone of civil rights movements, women have finally come to the forefront in the US,” she said.

The Black Lives Matters movement initiated by three African-American women in 2012 as a response to the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida received widespread support despite not having “a single male charismatic leader”, Davis added.

“In India, The All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch was done the same, touring India and then North America last year to address the issue of caste-based violence against women. They are finding a common ground with movements like Black Lives Matter. We can learn from our Dalit sisters about linking casteism with patriarchy,” Davis said.

However, we cannot romanticise leaderlessness, the activist added. “Several spontaneous protests will not culminate in change. There has to be consensus-building, mobilisation, organisation and a sense of community.”

Talk of community led her to the subject of the new political dispensation in the US. “This [Donald Trump’s impending presidency] calls for a struggle like never before in the country,” Davis said. “We can only rely on radical activism to protest against the conservative and restrictive future that he has described. We need feminist solidarity across national borders for a movement as important as this.”

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