Famous activist Angela Davis and folksinger Arlo Guthrie will bring back the spirit of 1960s political activism by presenting debate and song in separate venues today.
Davis will discuss criminal justice and race in two free lectures today as part of the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center (IHC) 1960s Blowback Series, featuring free art exhibits, films and lectures through the end of November. Guthrie – famous for his epic ballad “The Alice’s Restaurant Massacre” – will meet fans alongside fellow singer-songwriter Glenn Phillips for a discussion in the College of Creative Studies Old Little Theater at noon before his performance tonight in Campbell Hall. Tickets for Guthrie’s show, sponsored by UCSB Arts & Lectures, cost $19 for students and $45 for the general public.
For their lecture titled “Race, Crime, and Punishment in the Americas,” Davis and fellow activist Vilma Reis will speak at noon in MultiCultural Center (MCC) about questioning legal authority. Davis will then speak about the legacy of the Black Panther Party – a radical black rights group founded in the 1960s – at 4 p.m. in Corwin Pavilion.
Davis’ discussion – sponsored by the MCC, IHC and the New Racial Studies Project – focuses on aspects of police tactics and prison systems that can foster racial inequality, sociology professor Howard Winant said. He said Davis will also explain the Black Panthers’ impact on the criminal justice system.
Davis is a former Black Panther and a current professor in the History of Consciousness Dept. at UC Santa Cruz, said Alexandra Halsey, publicity coordinator for the University Art Museum.
Reis is the executive coordinator for the Center for Education and Training for Race & Gender Equality, located in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil. She is also an Afro-Brazilian professor at the Federal University of Bahia in Brazil, Winant said.
Halsey said Davis last visited UCSB in 1970 – the year rioting UCSB students burned down the Isla Vista branch of Bank of America to protest the war in Vietnam. Halsey said the revival of student activism in recent years closely mirrors the work of students in the 1960s and ’70s.
“I would like to think the country is trying to awaken activism,” Halsey said. “I see evidence of that in Santa Barbara.”
The 4 p.m. lecture, which will also include a reception, is sponsored by the University Art Museum and IHC, IHC Director Dick Hebdige said. He said Davis’ discussion links the Black Panther movement with 21st century politics.
“It’s time to reexamine what the ’60s were about and how they connect to today,” Hebdige said.
Halsey said she expects a diverse turnout of both students and older generations at both lectures.
“It will be interesting to see how many old hippies will be there and what kind of impact Angela Davis has on students,” Halsey said.
Today’s lectures, along with the other speakers, films and art exhibits in the free Blowback Series, focus on the artistry, creativity and social activism that were prevalent in the ’60s, Halsey said.
The 1960s movie series, “Up Against The Wall: Screening the ’60s,” has two films left, on Nov. 9 and 16 in the in HSSB 1174. The first film is titled “Invocation of My Demon Brother” while the film on Nov. 16 is called “Cutter’s Way.”
While Davis and Reis debate politics and discuss 1960s activism, Guthrie will play “Alice’s Restaurant” tonight to celebrate his famous protest song’s 40th anniversary, an Arts & Lectures [[ok]] press release said. His show will also feature pieces such as “City of New Orleans” and “Coming Into Los Angeles.”