Professor Angela Davis visited Keene State College this evening and gave an enlightening, challenging talk tracing the historical connections between the carceral state and global capitalism and advancing the idea of abolishing prisons as an important step towards imagining a more just world. She was precise and expansive, moving easily between concrete and theoretical examples–from Frederic Jameson to Ferguson, Missouri. Needless to say, the audience was rapt.
For the hour before the talk, I held my station at the WKNH studio, spinning a playlist of music inspired by and dedicated to Angela Davis. In my research, Tara Betts’ work on sampling Davis’s and other black female activists’ voices and Pat Thompson’s book Listen, Whitey! were essential sources for exploring Davis’s influence on music. After the talk, I spent a few unforgettable moments with Dr. Davis, during which we talked about these cross-genre connections as part of the legacy of the Black Power Movement on the West Coast.
I also played a few tunes from the album Free Angela, sold to support Davis’s legal defense after her arrest, as well as a few other compositions and performances that were released on smaller labels that tend not to be available through streaming services. Such a confluence of political commitment and musical expression affirms and fulfills the Black Arts Movement’s vision for a populist, revolutionary aesthetic in music and poetry.
Thanks to Dr. Dottie Morris for bringing such crucial programs to Keene State College.