Angela Davis: At least in the Jim Crow South the roads were not segregated

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Listen to the passion of beloved American social justice activist and scholar Angela Davis as she shares her experiences in Occupied Palestine. In a fantastic speech on “Incarceration, Justice and Health” at the annual meeting of American Public Health Association at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, she draws the audience in with the shared commonality of all mankind:

Davis: I’m telling you when I was there I was shocked. I was really shocked. I didn’t expect to be shocked, I thought I already knew, I really thought I knew because I have been doing this work for I don’t know how many decades so I thought I knew what I would encounter in Occupied Palestine but I didn’t know.

And when I saw the signs, the signs didn’t say white and colored like they did when I was growing up, but they say ‘Authorized Persons’, or ‘Authorized vehicles’ and I said to myself, ‘I didn’t know that highways could be segregated.’ Because even living in the most segregated city in the South during the height of Jim Crow we could, maybe we couldn’t stop and get out of the car ..

[audience laughs]

But we could still drive! But there are signs on highways that say ‘authorized vehicles only’ and that means if you have a Palestinian license plate (and you see there’s a different kind of literacy you acquire there).. you learn and you know what license plates are Palestinian and which ones aren’t. If you have a Palestinians license plate you can’t drive or certain streets you can’t walk down. So I urge you to find out more about what is happening in that part of the world and also to remember that not long ago some young Palestinians boarded some of those segregated buses that transport people from one illegal settlement to another and they knew they would be arrested because Palestinians are not allowed to board those buses and guess what they called themselves?

Audience: Freedom Riders

Davis: Freedom Riders yes! Freedom Riders

[audience claps]

And therefore they were acknowledging the part, the influence of the Black freedom struggle on their freedom struggle today and I think as people would have it in this country Black or Latino or Native American or Asian American or Arab American or White or whatever we have a responsibility to support that struggle.

Justice is always indivisible and injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere.

(Hat tip Karen Platt)

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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8 Responses

  1. Annie Robbins
    November 4, 2012, 12:47 pm

    heads up, there’s a lot about bds in this video that was not transcribed here. i urge everyone to watch it and hear her passion and the rest of her message in this segment. note how she closes her address in the closing session with what is going on in palestine.

    the prominence of palestine in american discourse is gaining momentum.

  2. Boston
    November 5, 2012, 7:10 am

    Ms. Davis’ point about the roads should be an eye opener to those who think Israel does not practice apartheid.

  3. Bill in Maryland
    November 5, 2012, 9:17 am

    Thanks Annie. Amazing to hear that talk, including so much unvarnished truth about the Occupation, at a large meeting of American health professionals. In this regard I think the APHA is light-years ahead of the AMA and other health professional groups thanks to the leadership of Dr. Alan Meyers and others. In one of the photos on this APHA blog you can see Dalit Baum in the audience- great to see coalition building going on to such good effect.

    • Annie Robbins
      November 5, 2012, 11:44 am

      hey, thanks for the link bill. btw, i heard from people who attended the conference and APHA (the American Public Health Assn’s) picked up lots of signatures for this petition. this is an APHA petition.

      APHA Members to TIAA-CREF: We Want an Occupation-Free Retirement Fund!

      We are members of the American Public Health Association and many of us are TIAA-CREF participants and investors who are deeply concerned that TIAA-CREF invests in many companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in violation of international law.

      As public health professionals, we want to see TIAA-CREF divest from the Israeli Occupation. It is well documented that the Israeli occupation has done great damage to the health of the population of the occupied Palestinian territories. Israeli soldiers have been known to prevent Palestinian ambulances from transporting critically ill and/or wounded patients to nearby medical facilities (1). Vitally needed training for medical professionals is stifled and there are frequent shortages of medicine and medical supplies throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territories (2). Palestinians face chronic malnutrition and psychological trauma (3). Travel restrictions strangle social and economic life (4). Palestinian homes are destroyed on a regular basis (5). In August 2012, the United Nations reported that Gaza will no longer be “liveable” by 2020 unless urgent action is taken to improve water supply, power, health, and schooling (6).

      more at the link

  4. Klaus Bloemker
    November 5, 2012, 10:34 am

    “Justice is always indivisible and injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere. ….
    …. and eventually we need socialism for us all.”

    you left out Angela Davis’ last words about “socialism for us all”.
    I always suspected that these anti-Israel fanatics were communists.

    • Shmuel
      November 5, 2012, 11:18 am

      you left out Angela Davis’ last words about “socialism for us all”.
      I always suspected that these anti-Israel fanatics were communists.

      And you left out the words “maybe, eventually”, but no matter. The jig is up, comrades. Klaus is on to us. First Palestine and then the world.

      ¡Hasta la victoria siempre!

    • WeAreAllMadeOfStars
      November 5, 2012, 11:31 am

      I always suspected that these anti-Israel fanatics were communists.
      So what ? More freedom and more justice lovers means more communists ? … I say (and sing) Let it be !

  5. Annie Robbins
    November 5, 2012, 11:23 am

    I always suspected that these anti-Israel fanatics were communists.

    cat’s kinda out of the bag on Davis’s political leanings klaus:

    Professor Davis’s political activism began when she was a youngster in Birmingham, Alabama, and continued through her high school years in New York. But it was not until 1969 that she came to national attention after being removed from her teaching position in the Philosophy Department at UCLA as a result of her social activism and her membership in the Communist Party, USA. In 1970 she was placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List on false charges, and was the subject of an intense police search that drove her underground and culminated in one of the most famous trials in recent U.S. history. During her sixteen-month incarceration, a massive international “Free Angela Davis” campaign was organized, leading to her acquittal in 1972.


    Former California Governor Ronald Reagan once vowed that Angela Davis would never again teach in the University of California system. Today she is Distinguished Professor Emerita in the History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies Departments at the University of California, Santa Cruz. In 1994, she received the distinguished honor of an appointment to the University of California Presidential Chair in African American and Feminist Studies.

    wiki: She was twice a candidate for Vice President on the Communist Party USA ticket during the 1980s.

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