I went to hear Angela Davis at the Southbank earlier in the year. I’ve been thinking a lot since about what she said about taking the long view, and seeing our role in context:
“We are creating the terrain for something that may happen 50 years from now … And, you know, oftentimes, when I say this, people become depressed, because they are saying, ‘well, maybe I won’t be around 50 years from now’. But so what? What difference does that make? … We cannot measure the work we are doing by our own selves …
“I would like to think that today we are living the imaginaries of those who have been long gone … And we can expect that others will be inhabiting a world that we imagine … that is impossible if we do not engage in the kind of activism that is required today”.
This notion that the struggle for social justice is a kind of generational torch that we all do our best to carry and pass on reminds me too of a story that Martin Luther King recounts, in his book about the Montgomery bus boycott.
He mentions an older woman who, walking home, was offered a lift. Her answer was that “I’m not walking for myself. I’m walking for my children and my grandchildren”.
The full Q&A with Angela Davis is available here