Beyond Solidarity: Angela Davis and Rasmea Odeh Share the Stage during Momentous Event
Yesterday, during a historic occasion, Angela Davis, former Black political prisoner and well known scholar, and Rasmea Odeh, target of FBI repression and revered Palestinian leader, shared the stage at the event, “Freedom Beyond Occupation and Incarceration,” hosted at UIC. This event aimed to bridge struggles of Black and Palestinian liberation, as well to raise awareness and support of Odeh’s defense.
The event was sold out, and hundreds of supporters packed the room, who all celebrated Odeh and Davis with standing ovations multiple times throughout the event.
Talks by Davis and Odeh were preceded by performances of spoken word, rap and short words by local Black activists including Barbara Ransby, Ric Wilson, Antoinette McCoy, and Frank Chapman.
Odeh, a Palestinian-American leader at the Arab American Action Network, convicted wrongfully this March, spoke about the effects of Israeli apartheid on her family history, being subjected to ethnic cleansing and driven away from their homes. She also spoke about the effect of the Israeli occupation on Palestinian women, as well as the use of sexual violence and torture as a political tool.
A political prisoner in 1969 and a survivor of Israeli sexual torture and rape, Odeh continued to pursue fighting for feminist issues and advocacy of women’s causes through the creation of a successful Arab Women’s Committee in Chicago.
In the United States, she was wrongfully convicted of false procurement of naturalization, and sentenced to 18 months and deportation to Jordan. This conviction follows a lengthy trial and multiple attempts to target her and others in efforts to silence the Palestinian liberation movement. The fight to free Odeh will continue, as her appeal will be some time in September, as stated by her lawyer, Michael Deutch.
Odeh also emphasized the need for Black and Palestinian solidarity. Throughout her speech, she instilled hope in audience members.
“We have motivation to rise up against the racist laws and policies that push our people to margins of humanity., Odeh powerfully stated. “We stand for social justice and liberation in this country just as we’ve stood for the liberation in Palestine… Black liberation in this country will lead to the liberation of all.”
Much like Rasmea Odeh, Angela Davis was arrested in 1970. She was a former leader of Communist Party USA and associate of the Black Panthers, and was convicted for participating in an attempted escape of three Black political prisoners, the Soledad Brothers, who were acquitted later.
As a result, a mass movement was created to “Free Angela,” and Davis has become an icon for the prison abolition movement and the Black liberation movement in general ever since.
Noting the murders of Blacks amongst many others by police forces, the prison industrial complex and other forms of institutionalized racism, Odeh remarked, “We Palestinians stand in solidarity with the Black communities rising up against all the vicious violence.”
This event marks an important moment in history, where Blacks and Palestinians are working together in solidarity in their struggles, creating bridges and acknowledging differences in order to advance each other’s causes. Davis noted the diversity of protestors and organizers in Ferguson and St. Louis, where Palestinians continue to stand on frontlines with Blacks in solidarity.
Watch the video below of black journalists, artists and organizers representing Ferguson, Black Lives Matter, Black Youth Project 100, on a delegation to Palestine, hold a flashmob in Nazareth in solidarity with Palestinians.