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 ..
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
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)