Monday, February 22, 2016

Activism in All Its Ages and Stages

I began my Sunday by listening to On Being, as I do most Sundays.  Krista Tippett interviewed 2 people who are activists, but of different types.  Patrisse Cullors is a founder of the Black Lives Matter movement and Dr. Robert Ross has been doing amazing thinking and work in the field of public health.  It was an interesting examination of what it means to be an activist now (to hear it or to read the transcript, go here).

Later yesterday, I watched the new documentary on the Black Panthers--activism then.  I found it fascinating, but despite it's length, lacking.  I wanted more on the formation, on the community building, on the interaction with the other activist groups.  But I also realize that a 2 hour documentary can't do everything.

Here's one of my favorite quotes from the documentary:  “The great strength of the Black Panther Party was its ideals and its youthful vigor and enthusiasm; the great weakness of the party was its ideals and its youthful vigor and enthusiasm.  That sometimes can be very dangerous especially when you're up against the United States government.”

It was an interesting way to book-end the day.  I much preferred Tippett's deep interview style.  But I did love all that footage of the heyday of the Black Panthers.  And it was interesting to watch that documentary while I'm working on my own series of short stories about college activists in their early 50's.

After watching the documentary, I was able to finish one of those stories.  I've been on the cusp of finishing for what feels like weeks now.  Last night, I finally plowed through.

Was it the documentary?  No--it was probably the realization that I've got a lot of student papers coming in this week, so if I want to meet my 2016 goal of a short story a month, I needed to get it finished.

More resources:

A great article on the Black Panthers in The Washington Post is here.

NPR's Terry Gross interviewed the director of the documentary, and that interview can be accessed here.

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