Angela Davis Papers Acquired by Schlesinger Library of the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard

CAMBRIDGE, MA—The Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study today announced its acquisition of the papers of prominent political activist and pioneering feminist thinker Angela Y. Davis. The resources of Harvard’s Hutchins Center for African & African American Research were crucial to securing this landmark acquisition.

Courtesy Schlesinger Library.

“We are honored that Professor Angela Y. Davis chose the Schlesinger Library to be the permanent repository for a remarkable collection documenting a remarkable life,” said Jane Kamensky, the Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation Director of the Schlesinger Library. “The Angela Y. Davis Papers capture the many facets of her impact on the history of the United States, and will enable researchers to recover new histories of topics ranging from Black liberation and Black feminism, to Frankfurt school social theory, to the rise and fall of the Communist Party in America, to the growth of mass incarceration and the prison abolition movement.”

Widely regarded as the finest archival collection for research on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library has received more than 150 cartons of unique and rare material from Davis, including correspondence, photographs, unpublished speeches, teaching materials, organizational records, and audio from the radio show “Angela Speaks.” Davis’s incarceration, trial, and the global “Free Angela” campaign are especially well documented by materials that include personal writings, transcripts, letters received in prison, and banners used in “Free Angela” marches around the world.

“My papers reflect 50 years of involvement in activist and scholarly collaborations seeking to expand the reach of justice in the world,” said Davis. “I am very happy that at the Schlesinger Library they will join those of June Jordan, Patricia Williams, Pat Parker, and so many other women who have been advocates of social transformation.”

Courtesy Angela Davis.

Angela Y. Davis is one of the foremost figures in the struggle for human rights and against racial discrimination in the United States, and a foundational thinker in African American feminism. Her long-standing commitment to prisoners’ rights dates to her involvement in the campaign to free three California inmates known as the Soledad Brothers, who were accused of killing a prison guard during a riot at the Soledad Prison in California’s central valley. Davis, just 26 years old, emerged as a leader of the Soledad Brothers Defense Committee, which galvanized the American left, including such disparate figures as James Baldwin, Jane Fonda, Jessica Mitford, and Jean Genet. Her activism on the Soledad Brothers’ behalf led to her own arrest and imprisonment. 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 16-month incarceration, a massive international “Free Angela” campaign was organized, leading to her acquittal in 1972.

“Angela Y. Davis has played a major role in American political and philosophical thought for the last half century. I remember being inspired to take a philosophy class at Yale when I learned that her mentor, Herbert Marcuse, had called her his most brilliant student,” said Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and director of Harvard’s Hutchins Center. “Her consistent concern to ameliorate the conditions of the most unfortunate among us has inspired generations of students to commit their lives to service and scholarship. And her early calls for drastic prison reform have proven to be prophetic. Angela Davis’s archive will be studied for generations, and it is altogether fitting that the premier library on the history of women in America should house it.”

Schlesinger archivists have begun processing the collection, to which Davis will continue to add. The Angela Y. Davis Papers will be available for research by 2020.

Obama’s Letter Introducing Offical Portraits is Optimistic & Deeply Personal
Today, Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald became the first black artists to create official, Smithsonian-commissioned portraits of a former President and First Lady.And Michelle and I joined our distinguished predecessors and thousands of our fellow Americans on the walls of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.

Have a look at these two extraordinarily talented artists’ work.

Our official portraits

To call this experience humbling would be an understatement.

That’s because, as a former president, when you choose an artist to describe your likeness, you have the opportunity to shape, quite literally, how someone sees the office of the American presidency. And how they might see themselves in that presidency.

Kehinde Wiley and I share some things in common. Both of us had an American mother who raised us, an African father who was absent from our lives, and a search to figure out just where we fit in. I wrote a book about that journey, because I can’t paint. But I suspect a lot of Kehinde’s journey is reflected in his art. I was struck by the way his portraits challenge the way we view power and privilege; the way he endows his subjects, men and women often invisible in everyday life, with a level of dignity that not only makes them visible, but commands our attention.

The arts have always been central to the American experience. They provoke thought, challenge our assumptions, and shape how we define our narrative as a country.

Thanks to Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, generations of Americans — and young people from all around the world — will visit the National Portrait Gallery and see this country through a new lens. These works upend the notion that there are worlds where African Americans belong and worlds where we don’t. And that’s something Michelle and I hope we contributed to over the eight years we were so privileged to serve you from the White House.

They’ll walk out of that museum with a better sense of the America we all love. Clear-eyed. Big-hearted. Inclusive and optimistic.

And I hope they’ll walk out more empowered to go and change their worlds.

– Barack

Obama’s Portrait Quickly Satirized by Internet Silliness: Twitter Funnies

Obama Foundation Internship Applications Open Now


2018 HRC Awards Honor Two Global Human Rights Activists

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton presented awards from the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security to (from left to right) Nadia Murad, Wai Wai Nu and Lyse Doucet for their efforts in advancing women’s role in creating a more peaceful and secure world.

January 31, 2018 – Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke in Georgetown’s Gaston Hall Feb. 5 on the importance of women’s leadership in advancing human rights, justice and peace.

Hillary Clinton with stained-glass window behind her

She also presented the 2018 Hillary Rodham Clinton awards, bestowed annually by the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security to individuals advancing women’s role in creating a more peaceful and secure world.

This year’s awardees are Nadia Murad, a former ISIS captive, and Wai Wai Nu, a Rohingya activist and former political prisoner from Myanmar. Both women have overcome tremendous personal adversity and become powerful voices for women’s rights in conflict.


Murad is now a Yazidi human rights activist and United Nations’ Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking. Nu works as a civil society advocate for human rights, democracy and peace in Myanmar.

A special Global Trailblazer Award was presented by Clinton to BBC chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet for her courageous reporting on war and her efforts to spotlight the impact of conflict on women and children.

Last year, the awards were presented to four Colombians who ensured women’s voices were included in that nation’s peace agreement with the FARC.


Clinton is the honorary founding chair of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security.

She launched the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security at Georgetown six years ago.

GIWPS, led by former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer, examines and highlights the roles and experiences of women in peace and security efforts worldwide through cutting-edge research, global convening and strategic partnerships.

In partnership with the Peace Research Institute of Oslo, GIWPS has created an index that draws on recognized international data sources to rank 153 countries on women’s wellbeing.

Nadia Murad

Hillary Clinton Award | 02/05/2018

headshot of Human rights activist Nadia Murad Basee Taha

Nadia Murad is a Yazidi activist and human rights champion.

In 2014, the Islamic State attacked Nadia’s village in Iraq’s Sinjar region. That day, she witnessed the murders of her mother and brothers at the hands of the Islamic State, which considers the Yazidis to be ‘infidels.’ Nadia, was kidnapped and enslaved as a sex slave to members of the Islamic State. That year, around 7,000 Yazidi women and girls were abducted by the Islamic State.

Nadia managed to escape from her captives and a nearby family helped her flee from ISIS-controlled territory. She was able to reach a refugee camp in northern Iraq, and thereafter she was selected for a resettlement program in Germany.

Since then, Nadia has testified about her experiences to the United Nations Security Council. She uses her platform to urge the international community to respond to the plight of the Yazidis and other ethno-religious minorities in Iraq. London-based human rights attorney Amal Clooney has taken on Nadia’s case in pressuring the United Nations to investigate the crimes committed against the Yazidis by the Islamic State.

Now a Nobel Peace Prize nominee and the first UN Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking, Nadia is a powerful voice for justice for the Yazidis.

Wai Wai Nu

Hillary Clinton Award | 02/05/2018

head shot of Wai Wai

Wai Wai is a leading voice for human rights and peace in Myanmar.

Wai Wai was among thousands of political prisoners detained by Myanmar’s former military regime. Following the sentencing of her father, an opposition MP, the then-18-year-old law student was sentenced to seventeen years in Insein Prison.

Wai Wai served seven years of her sentence, a period that she now refers to as her “University of Life.” Freed in 2012, at the age of 25, she quickly became an agent of change.

She earned her law degree at Yangon East University. She founded two NGOs: Women’s Peace Network-Arakan—an organization that conducts trainings around civic engagement in Rakhine State—and Justice for Women—a network of female lawyers offering legal aid to Burmese women. Through these organizations, Wai Wai aims to bolster peace-building efforts and empower Myanmar’s women and youth through legal counsel and rights education.

Wai Wai is Rohingya. Her viral #MyFriend campaign in 2015, urging social media users to share ‘selfies’ with their friends of diverse racial and religious backgrounds, solidified her reputation as a young human rights activist worldwide. She recently used her platform to persuade the United Nations to conduct a fact-finding mission in Myanmar—though she lobbied for a more intensive Commission of Inquiry—to investigate the persecution of her fellow Rohingya in Myanmar.

White Wednesdays: A Movement Protesting Compulsory Hijab in Iran is Growing

In mid-summer of 2017, a social media campaign called White Wednesdays began sharing through Facebook a coordinated effort among Iranians to protest the compulsory hijab by wearing a white hijab on Wednesdays. In this way, women and men who were like-minded could recognize one another by the symbolic color. From there, it has progressed to women sharing photos without their hijabs and now even walking down the street hijab-free and sharing videos of their experiences.

Some women face having their cars confiscated or being detained or facing court fines, but the movement continues to gain traction.

White Wednesdays is an offshoot of the “My Steathy Freedom” Campaign formed three years ago to protest compulsory hijabs. A separate page on Facebook gives more information about this campaign:

We launched a campaign called “My Stealthy Freedom” to say NO to forced hijab.. Today we need to keep reminding all politicians and all female tourists who visit Iran of the compulsory hijab. We need a #hijabdeal because the hijab is a global issue when all women who visit Iran are forced to wear it.
While millions of women wear the veil as part of the World Hijab Day in solidarity with veiled women, it is not fair to ignore thoese women on this special day. Millions of women have been forced to wear the hijab from the age of seven—if they refused to wear the hijab, they would be deprived of an education. It is also about the time that we shouted “No Wall, No Ban” for women who are forced to wear the veil.
We are for freedom of choice and we find compulsion to be deplorable whether it is done to veil or unveil a woman.


Iconic Photo of Woman Freeing Herself of Hijab Becomes Symbol of Iran Protests

Martin Luther King Jr. Last Speech & Robert Kennedy Announcing King’s Assassination

Photo: Yoichi R. Okamoto, White House Press Office, Lyndon Johnson Library and Museum.


Dr. King’s Acceptance Speech for the Nobel Peace Prize may be found here:

Are we really in 2018?

Waging Nonviolence: Top 10 Most-Read Stories of 2017: Peaceful Strategies to Effect Change


Looking back on the past year may not sound like a very uplifting activity, but when we finished compiling WNV’s top 10 most-read stories of 2017, we were actually feeling completely energized. That’s because the list isn’t merely a reminder of what’s wrong with the world (like the New York Times’ most-read stories). It’s a reminder of how people are confronting those wrongs and making serious advances toward justice.

What’s more, WNV’s list is a reflection of what excites and interests readers like you. And, more than anything, it’s a reflection of what you aren’t seeing elsewhere. Author and activist Bill McKibben recently shared with us the perfect explanation for why WNV is so vital:

“We have a thousand journalists and ten thousand novelists covering the art, science, and business of making war, and thus it has been for centuries. But though nonviolence is used in far more cases and can work much better, almost no one takes the time to seriously analyze how movements and campaigns work (or don’t). Waging Nonviolence is unique, critically useful — and conducted in the right spirit, equal parts rigor and love.

Editors, Waging Nonviolence

WNV’s Most-Read Stories of 2017

10. A manual for a new era of direct action
An organizing manual that powered the civil rights movement gets a 2017 update.

9. Why Black Bloc tactics won’t build a successful movement
Black bloc tactics have received much praise in recent weeks, but there are many valid questions about their effectiveness that we ignore at our own peril.

8. How prisoners organized to elect a just DA in Philly
Thanks to an insurgent criminal justice reform campaign waged by prisoners, their families and community groups, Philadelphia elected an anti-incarceration district attorney.

7. Syrians roll back extremism in Idlib without military intervention
Syrian citizens are managing their civil affairs, alleviating suffering and rolling back extremism in Idlib City without Assad or outside military force.

6. Don’t feed the trolls — how to combat the alt-right
Using humor and creative tactics or overwhelming the alt-right with our sheer numbers is the best way to win, and for that nonviolent discipline is key.

5. How anti-Vietnam War activists stopped violent protest from hijacking their movement
The tactics of isolation that kept groups like the Weathermen away from peaceful protests may help today’s activists struggling with Black Bloc disruptions.

4. The urgency of slowing down
We need to act, but addressing this crucial moment can’t come at the expense of strategy, process, intention and remembering to slow down enough to breathe.

3. Gandhi’s strategy for success — use more than one strategy
How creating a healthy “ecology of change,” as Gandhi did in India, can help propel social movements.

2. Why Nazis are so afraid of these clowns
Clowns have an impressive track record of subverting Nazi ideology, de-escalating rallies and bringing communities together in creative resistance.

1. A 10-point plan to stop Trump and make gains in justice and equality
While enthusiasm for the struggle seemed high among Women’s March participants, an important question was looming: What’s the strategic plan?