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Mass Protests the Only Real Ignition to Significant Social Change, Author Tells College Graduates

By Peter Weisberg

Keeanga Yamahtta-Taylor, a professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, has been an avid supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement. In her recent book, From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, her critiques of this and past moments of history from the perspective of a radical black woman provide powerful and thoughtful insights.

Her 2019 commencement address at Hunter College, “Refiguring the Future,” focused on the history and importance of mass social movements, particularly Black Lives Matter. Her powerful talk starts with a scathing attack on the Trump presidency and the seemingly unending vortex of inhumane crises it generates. Yamahtta-Taylor is emphatic about drawing a historical bridge from the very foundations of the US to the current colossal issues we face collectively.

Mass social movements, Black Lives Matter in particular, provide an opening into new social and economic possibilities and a potential gateway toward individual and societal transformation. In fact, Yamahtta-Taylor asserts that almost every significant progressive change that we’ve achieved has been through mass protests and social movements.

“Social movements preserve the interests of those outside the corrupting and tranquilizing influence of electoral politics,” she says.

Her critique of both the Republican and Democratic Parties points us toward the inescapable conclusion that it is not through the mechanism of our well-mannered, “adult” two-party political system that any significant root change will occur. Left to themselves, says Yamahtta-Taylor, the current political institutions are incapable of correcting the powerful influences of those forces that maintain their power. Racial inequalities, economic-income inequalities, gender inequalities, class inequalities, and the existential threat posed by climate change all have yet to be ameliorated by those intransigent institutions, she says. And as these imbalances accelerate toward a global flashpoint, it will fall on us, collectively, to organize and push forward for real life-affirming change, she says.

“Another world is possible,” she says, “but we are the only ones who can create it. No one is coming to save us. We must join together to save ourselves.”

Join Occupy San Miguel at 1pm, July 8, to discuss these vital issues. All our events are free and open to all.


Meeting and Film

Occupy San Miguel

“Refiguring the Future”: A Commencement Speech

Keeanga Yamahtta-Taylor

Mon, Jul 8, 1pm

Quinta Loreto Hotel

Loreto 15, Centro





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