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“Dear Angela: Transnational Solidarity Campaigns to Free Angela Davis”



Jamele Watkins Stanford University


Tuesday, February 12, 2019 - 12:00pm



“Dear Angela: Transnational Solidarity Campaigns to Free Angela Davis”

It is no secret that Black bodies were treated like chess pieces during the Cold War, and Angela Davis is no different. There were many African-American guests invited to East Germany to speak about U.S. oppression. However, Davis was particularly beloved through various projects from the government and individuals. I examine the East German iconization of Davis through their campaign: “1 Million Roses for Angela,” and “Freiheit für Angela” by utilizing a recently uncovered archive of over 200 boxes of letters, banners, pictures, and postcards sent primarily from East Germany during her arrest and trial, 1970-1972. These pieces make a whole through volume. They show those involved with the trial to show that other nations were watching. Davis represented the “hero of the other America,” that is, a non-capitalistic America. Because of her communist beliefs, East Germans considered her a comrade and an icon. The solidarity projects aided in freeing Davis. In the talk, I argue the ways in which meaning was created out the state fashioned project and that Davis achieved saint like status in the GDR.
Dr. Jamele Watkins is a Post-doctoral Fellow in the German Department at Stanford University. She engages in intersections of race and gender in the 20th and 21st Century. Her projects include Afro-German performance, visual culture and feminism, and transnational solidarity projects and affinities. Currently, she is working on her book project: Roses for Angela, which focuses on the East German solidarity campaigns to free Davis.