Author discusses liberation movements

Author discusses liberation movements
March 03
00:00 2016

By Tevin Stinson

The Chronicle 

The fight for black liberation in the black community has seen a multitude of transformations over the years. When compared with the early movements of the 60s and 70s, it appears to be vastly different from the Black Lives Matter movement of today, but the goal remains the same:-Social and economic equitability for the African American community.

That is the message historian, political activist and author Barbara Ransby delivered during a lecture at the Porter Bynum Welcome Center on the campus of Wake Forest University Tuesday, Feb. 23. She said the same shouts of “Black Power” from the dusty roads of Mississippi in the summer of 1966, when a campaign was started to register black voters, echoed through the decades and into our place in time.

“All of the movements have addressed the way racial hierarchy is embedded into the DNA of American capitalism, and the currency that  privilege represents.”

Ransby is the author of the award-winning biography on civil rights activist Ella Baker entitled, “Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision.” Ransby currently serves as a distinguished professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the Departments of African-American Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies and History.

During her hour long lecture, Ransby told more than 75 students in attendance that although there are patterns in history that provide lessons that can be learned and applied to our own time, it is important that the different movements over the years showed variety.

“Each generation must discover its mission,” she said. “Although we should apply the lessons from previous movements, that doesn’t exempt us from naming the moment we are in.”

Ransby also discussed other movements including the Student Nonviolent Coordination Committee (SNCC), the Civil Rights Movement, and the Black Panther Party. She said although each of the movements had a significant leader, it is the work of those behind the scenes that made each movement important. Ransby said she is now seeing that same work behind the scenes with the Black Lives Matter movement.

“The kind of work that Ella Baker did behind the scenes is what has to be done for movements to sustain,” said Ransby. “We have a lot of that with Black Lives Matter; that is one of the many reasons I think the movement will continue to grow.”

Ransby’s visit to WFU was hosted by the Anna Julia Cooper Center, an interdisciplinary center that supports, generates and communicates innovative research at the intersections of gender, race and place-in-order. The center is led by Presidential Endowed Professor in Politics and International Affairs Melissa Harris-Perry.

Harris-Perry said Ransby’s voice adds to what has been an extraordinary year of meaningful engagement at Wake Forest. She also said Ransby’s work as an educator, author and political activist has been a true inspiration for herself and many others.

“The Anna Julia Cooper lecture has welcomed some of the nation’s preeminent researchers in recent years,” said Harris-Perry. “Barbara Ransby’s scholarship resides at the powerful intersection of activism and the academy, calling on both the more rigorous intellectual traditions and the most impactful organizing histories of black people in America.”

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