The Meaning of Freedom: And Other Difficult Dialogues

Overview

"Davis' arguments for justice are formidable. . . . The power of her historical insights and the sweetness of her dream cannot be denied."—The New York Times

What is the meaning of freedom? Angela Y. Davis' life and work have been dedicated to examining this fundamental question and to ending all forms of oppression that deny people their political, cultural, and sexual freedom. In this collection of twelve searing, previously unpublished speeches, Davis confronts the ...

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Overview

"Davis' arguments for justice are formidable. . . . The power of her historical insights and the sweetness of her dream cannot be denied."—The New York Times

What is the meaning of freedom? Angela Y. Davis' life and work have been dedicated to examining this fundamental question and to ending all forms of oppression that deny people their political, cultural, and sexual freedom. In this collection of twelve searing, previously unpublished speeches, Davis confronts the interconnected issues of power, race, gender, class, incarceration, conservatism, and the ongoing need for social change in the United States. With her characteristic brilliance, historical insight, and penetrating analysis, Davis addresses examples of institutional injustice and explores the radical notion of freedom as a collective striving for real democracy—not a thing granted by the state, law, proclamation, or policy, but a participatory social process, rooted in difficult dialogues, that demands new ways of thinking and being. "It is not too much," writes Robin D.G. Kelly in the introduction, "to call her one of the world's leading philosophers of freedom." The Meaning of Freedom articulates a bold vision of the society we need to build and the path to get there. This is her only book of speeches and her first full-length book since Are Prisons Obsolete? (2003).

Angela Y. Davis is professor emerita at the University of California and author of eight books. She is a much sought after public speaker and an internationally known advocate for social justice.

Robin D.G. Kelley is the author of many books and a professor at the University of Southern California.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Hot and timely topics like feminism, racism, incarceration, and patriotism are all considered by Davis (Are Prisons Obsolete?) in this collection of her speeches from 1994 to 2009. Structural racism and discrimination are the rhetorical linchpins of these oratories, with Davis advocating for a "radical structural change" in American society, including the abolition of the "prison-industrial complex" and the death penalty. The most compelling moments come when Davis points out ironies and inversions in the results of the apparently increasing equality between races and genders. For Davis, the photos taken at Abu Ghraib in Iraq serve as a prime example of how "gender equality is construed as equal opportunity to wield the weapons and violence controlled by the state." At their best, these speeches are highly rhetorical and persuasive, grounded in readings of DuBois and the personal experiences of Davis. At their weakest, they consist of posturing and unsupported claims. This overview of Davis' fervent lectures is perfect for the unfamiliar, though the incredulous may require a volume with more substantiation. (Aug.)
From the Publisher

"This document of contemporary thought by a major world-historical figure, Davis' first full-length book in almost a decade, makes it timelessly clear that while no freedom fight will ever be easy—'We can’t rely on simple categories'—every real triumph, however small and short-lived, will always be worth it." -- Todd Steven Burroughs, Ebony.com

"The 12 speeches delivered between 1994 and 2009, and collected here for the first time, provide as good an entry point as any into the radical life and ideas of the political activist and thinker Angela Davis." -- San Francisco Chronicle

"In this collection of 12 previously unpublished speeches, the longtime activist asks readers to imagine a social landscape devoid of institutional and cultural injustice. Freedom is a process of becoming, she asserts; it can't be fully realized without collective participation by a demanding society."--Ms. Magazine

"Angela Y. Davis proves that it's still possible to find a new, refreshing way to discuss race, gender, class, and sexuality. In this heartfelt examination through previously unpublished speeches, Davis discusses these issues with simple language and challenges us to think about how feminism and racism relate to our everyday lives."--Bust Magazine

"This book is a collection of Davis’ lectures from 1994 through 2009, interweaving themes of freedom and bias based on race, gender, and sexual orientation. Davis is at her best linking these perceptively separate segments into a broader concept of freedom across all the lines that separate us."--Booklist

"As always, Davis is particularly concerned with the prison-industrial complex, yet her thoughts on marriage equality, immigration and globalization are just as thought-provoking." -- San Jose Mercury News

"Angela Davis has devoted her career to this fundamental question of freedom, and its seemingly inherent other, oppression. The need for social change in America is great, but constantly thwarted by institutional injustice. Davis is calling for real democracy, which comes not from any law or proclamation, but by participatory social process."--Alexis Coe, SF Weekly

"Davis is careful to bring current, pressing, and local issues into each of her speeches. The same undergirding of what the Combahee River Collective called 'interlocking' oppressions organizes not only her speeches but also her responses to audience members included in the book, providing some of the richest moments in the collection." —Alexis Pauline Gumbs Make/Shift Magazine

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780872865808
  • Publisher: City Lights Books
  • Publication date: 8/14/2012
  • Series: City Lights Open Media
  • Pages: 202
  • Sales rank: 279,915
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author


Angela Y. Davis is Professor Emerita of History of Consciousness at the University of California and author of many books including Women, Race and Class and Are Prisons Obsolete? She is a much sought after public speaker and internationally known feminist scholar, prison abolitionist, and advocate for social justice.

Robin D.G. Kelley is a professor of History, American Studies and Ethnicity at USC. From 2003-2006, he was the William B. Ransford Professor of Cultural and Historical Studies at Columbia University. From 1994–2003, he was a professor of history and Africana Studies at NYU. He is the author of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original and Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination.

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