Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement by Angela Davis. New York: Haymarket Books, 2016.
In this collection of interviews and speeches given between 2013 and 2015, American political activist and scholar Angela Davis shares her thoughts on social justice issues and movements both past and present. Though a small book at just 145 pages, there are a lot of big topics being addressed – including (but not limited to) capitalist individualism, feminism, the prison-industrial complex, violence in America, and the global struggle for liberation.
While this book is not intended as an introduction to movements against oppression, it may be of interest to anyone engaged with anti-oppression work or interested in social justice work and movements. The speeches and interviews in this collection are part of a larger discussion that explores the importance and relevance of past struggles in context with today’s efforts to build a more just world. The importance of intersectionality is returned to repeatedly, as Davis explains that injustice doesn’t exist in isolation and that finding solutions for one problem often requires looking at multiple problems. Though this point of view may seem disheartening or overwhelming to some, Davis seems energized by it and skillfully draws connections between historical events and present day struggles.
One of the speeches included in this collection was given just one hundred miles away at Davidson College, and in that speech Davis asks listeners to consider some of the well-known events of the civil rights movement that happened within North Carolina, and then to think more broadly about how these cases influenced actions and events in other locations and how the actions and efforts of others can build up a larger movement and support those involved in similar struggles. In this speech Davis references a famous William Faulkner quote, “The past is never dead. The past is never dead. It’s not even past,” and then goes on to discuss the importance of previous movements and struggles on work being done today. It is this ability to build connections across struggles and time periods that make the interviews and speeches so interesting.
Though a shorter book, plenty of time should be given to read it, as it is quite a dense read that talks about difficult histories and current events. While individual interviews and speeches are easily digestible, the book as a whole may be hard to swallow all in one go.
Kelly Jones is the Library’s Mobile Café Driver and can be reached at email@example.com.