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February 20, 2013

Political activist Angela Davis to headline GAC event

— Political activist Angela Davis will headline Gustavus Adolphus College’s annual Building Bridges Conference March 9.

This year’s conference is titled “Sentenced for Life: Confronting the Calamity of Mass Incarceration” and will focus on “often-ignored issue of injustice in the American prison system.”

In addition to Davis, this year’s conference will include Marc Lamont Hill, an activist, political commentator and one of the country’s leading hip-hop generation intellectuals.

“We are trying to give a voice to a population that is otherwise voiceless: to join in the movement and help expand it, and fight for the people that many would not be willing to fight for because of the stigma,” said Building Bridges Co-Chair and Gustavus senior Jasmine Porter in a statement.

Davis’ political activism began in Birmingham, Ala., and continued through her high school years in New York. In 1969 she came to national attention after being removed from her teaching position in the philosophy department at UCLA as a result of her social activism and her membership in the Communist Party.

In 1970, she was placed on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List and was the subject of a police search that drove her underground and culminated in well-known trial. During her 16-month incarceration, a massive international “Free Angela Davis” campaign was organized, leading to her acquittal in 1972.

Davis is now a distinguished professor emerita at the University of California-Santa Cruz, where she previously taught in the history of consciousness and feminist studies departments.

Hill has been an associate professor of education at Teachers College at Columbia University since 2009 and holds an affiliated faculty appointment in African American studies at the Institute for Research in African American Studies at Columbia University.

He has written several books and manuscripts including “Beats, Rhymes, and Classroom Life: Hip-Hop Pedagogy” and “The Politics of Identity and First Class Jails/Second Class Schools: Black Youth in the Age of Incarceration.”

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