As the Black Lives Matter movement has shown us, the state's contempt of black bodies is only countered by people rising up and demanding something different. Mumia Abu-Jamal—a political prisoner incarcerated in Pennsylvania since 1981—has suffered for decades as a target of this contempt at the hands of the state, and it has been popular mobilizations which have prevented his execution, and which are now needed to secure his freedom. This need is particularly dire given his deteriorating health, and the refusal of the state of Pennsylvania to offer proper treatment. As Johanna Fernandez, editor of the new collection of Mumia's prison writings Writing on the Wall,told us in her talk at the Baltimore Book Festival, Mumia is believed to be suffering from hepatitis C—which the state refuses to diagnose because to do so would involve the possibility of a cure rather than a slow, ostensibly "natural" death in prison, with the disease accomplishing what popular movements ensured the executioner could not.
We were honored to host this incredible panel of folks working in solidarity with the attempts to build a pluralistic, feminist, and directly-democratic society in the autonomous cantons of northern Syria and other areas of what was the Kurdish homeland before its arbitrary partition at the end of WWI. These incredibly inspiring efforts are under attack, not just from the theocratic gangsters of ISIS, but increasingly from the authoritarian Turkish state, where President Edrogan sees the progressive, multi-ethnic, pro-Kurdish HDP as a threat to his grasp on power.
It's been nearly two years since Tyrone West was brutally murdered by the police; his family has been protesting every Wednesday for 100 weeks to demand justice. Red Emma's was honored to welcome Tawanda Jones and other members of the West family to hear their story:
Johann Hari's talk at the store on his new book was an incredible trip through the origins of the drug war and the glimmerings of its end, brutally assessing its costs and highlighting the courage of the people who have dared to stand against it. Here's video of the night, courtesy of Book TV:
From Athens to New York, recent mass movements around the world have challenged austerity and authoritarianism with expressions of real democracy. For more than forty years, Murray Bookchin developed ideas and democratic aspirations into a new left politics based on popular assemblies, influencing a wide range of political thinkers and social movements. The Next Revolution brings together Bookchin’s essays on freedom and direct democracy for the first time, offering a bold political vision that can move us from protest to social transformation.
Jay Gillen, adult mentor for the Baltimore Algebra Project, was joined by leaders from an entire generation of Baltimore City youth organizers for a launch of his new book, out this year from our friends at AK Press:
While we have a lot of great events coming up in September, including the Radical Bookfair, we thought it'd be a good idea to specifically highlight three events we have coming up in October and November that focus on different aspects of our exceptionally problematic criminal "justice" system. The police murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson is, sadly, not an exceptional case—and we thought bringing authors to town who could address some of the larger questions around the systemic dysfunction and structural racism in the American systems of policing and incarceration would be a helpful contribution we could make as a bookstore.
Thanks to the historical investigations of Baltimore labor activist and educator William Barry, whose new book The 1877 Railroad Strike in Baltimore examines the origins of the first national strike in Baltimore, we now have this remarkable document of 19th century capitalism at work.
In the letter, Edgar T. Welles of the Gatling Gun Company writes to John Garrett, the president of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, whose unvarnished greed had helped spark the massive wave of labor unrest that shook the country in the summer of 1877, and suggests that the company's machine guns are just the thing to help manage labor relations in the future.
We are really excited for Bill Barry's upcoming book talk on his new history of the great railroad strike of 1877—a national wave of proletarian revolt that kicked off right here in Baltimore. In the meantime, here's a song to get you riled up and ready for some radical history, courtesy of Red Emma's collective member Ryan Harvey...
This man has a Crass tatoo, was the mayor of Iceland's largest city, and says things like "Surrealism is our best weapon against fascism."
Video from Topside Press' Trans Women Writers Summer Tour! With Imogen Binnie, Casey Plett, Annie Mok and Sybil Lamb:
Incredible talk with recently released political prisoner Marshall "Eddie" Conway:
The audio on the video is a little rough, so we've also included the recording Marc Steiner broadcast of the event:
On April 21st, we were honored to host a pay-what-you-can community dinner featuring a panel of residents and workers from privatization-threatened Baltimore public housing, including some of our neighbors in the J. Van Story Branch building. The video from the event is below, and if you need a quick primer on the situation, this opinion piece from the Sun is a good place to start.
Posted by John Duda
Red Emma's recently had the pleasure of hosting an event with Saskia Sassen, centered around her new book Expulsions: Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy. The video from her talk—focusing on the way a financialized global economy has rendered the large-scale violence it engenders more or less invisible—is available below:
We were honored to host a pretty amazing panel, organized by Research Associates Foundation and moderated by author and political science professor Lester Spence, which brought together Black Classic Press founder Paul Coates, radio host Marc Steiner, community organizer Betty Robinson, and Reverend CD Witherspoon for a decades-spanning discussion of organizing in Baltimore for racial justice. Here's the video if you missed it:
Public schools are one of the last bastions of the commons in the US, and they're under attack from all sides. In the middle of the fray stand teachers, rank and file members of some of the biggest unions left in the country. Unfortunately, the leadership of those unions has been working harder to stay in power than to fight for better schools.
In his quick, accessible, 130 page book Strike for America, Jacobin online editor and labor journalist Micah Uetricht shows us the years of planning, progress and pitfalls that predated the miraculous events of September 2012. It's an important book for those who believe in public education, those who believe in worker's rights, and those who want to understand how to make things happen.
Watch the video of his talk at Red Emma's:
In this wide-ranging and intense discussion, two critical urban scholar/activists invite us to imagine a city decoupled from the engines of gentrification and displacement, and challenge us to articulate what such a vision would concretely include: it's easy to say what we are against, but sometimes much harder to understand what we are for! An amazing event, especially given the utter necessity of asking precisely these kinds of questions in the Station North neighborhood.
Alondra Nelson's talk on March 7th was pretty incredible: looking behind the received representations of the Panthers that privilege camera-friendly armed—and often exclusively male—militancy, she explored the incredible story of the Party's committments to a grassroots vision of public health practice. From their community health clinics and scientifically sophisticated efforts to address sickle cell anemia, to their relationship to Fanon's anticolonial work and the way they attempted to construct their own media narrative around medical injustice before and after the Tuskegee revelations, Alondra placed the Panther's work on bringing medical care to their communities in a long subterranean tradition of health activism among black communities in the United States. As she noted, these stories of resistance are key counterpoints to the vital but incomplete narratives of medical oppression to be found in books like Medical Apartheid and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.
Watch the video now:
Last year, during our "New Histories of the Civil Rights Movement" panel featuring his book We Will Shoot Back, we asked scholar and Malcolm X Grassroots Movement founding member Akinyele Umoja to explain the history and organizing behind the then fresh victory of Chokwe Lumumba in the mayoral race in Jackson, Mississippi:
We were ecstatic to hear earlier today that Marshall "Eddie" Conway was released from prison today after 44 years of incarceration. We've been honored to have been able to use Red Emma's to provide support and space to the people who have worked tirelessly to secure Eddie's freedom since opening in 2004—the struggle to free the political prisoners held in the United States is simultaneously one of the most important and the most thankless struggles one can be engaged in, second perhaps only to the struggles of those political prisoners themselves to endure.
Marc Steiner, Baltimore radio host and a long time supporter of freedom for Eddie Conway, had some important words to say earlier tonight marking this important moment:
I'm delighted to report that this afternoon my friend and brother Marshall "Eddie" Conway was released from prison after almost 44 years as a political prisoner. As part of COINTELPRO's war against the Black Panthers, Eddie was accused of killing a police officer. There was never any evidence that linked Eddie Conway to this crime. Even one of the prosecutors who sent him to prison later came to believe in Eddie's innocence. While he was awaiting trial, a known informant was placed in Eddie's cell and clearly lied about him. Eddie was a victim of COINTELPRO, as was Martin Luther King, Jr., Leonard Peltier, SDS, and everyone who was part of the movement at that time.
As a Panther, Eddie continued to organize in prison. He taught literacy classes, led conflict mediation, and worked with young people. Eddie was a voice of peace for everyone he encountered.
When I saw him walk out of the courtroom today, he looked stunned, surrounded by the people who had loved and supported him the entire time. Eddie has vowed to continue his fight for justice, liberation and reconciliation. I am elated to see him walking the streets of Baltimore again as a free man.
As part of our fundraising campaign to open the new store, we hosted a talk across the street in MICA's graduate center last summer with the amazing Vijay Prashad, one of the foremost critics of global neoliberalism, and the author of a pair of important books examining the trajectory of the Third World/Global South—The Darker Nations and The Poorer Nations—the latter of which he speaks on in the video below, after thanking Red Emma's collective member Kate Khatib for her work editing his book Arab Spring, Libyan Winter, and explaining why you should give money to Red Emma's instead of NPR:
We had a packed house for Sarah Richardson's talk about her new book "Sex Itself: The Search for Male and Female in the Human Genome." Couldn't make it? Here's the video, with a special introduction given by Sarah's sister Alexa:
The indispensable Marc Steiner welcomed George Caffentzis and Silvia Federici into the studio on the occasion of their recent visit to Red Emma's to talk about their new books (as well as financialization, crisis, debt, labor, feminism and more!) Listen to the interview below:
We're really excited about Silvia Federici and George Caffentzis' upcoming January 30th visit to Baltimore, where they'll be giving a joint presentation on "Debt, Financialization and the Production of the Common." This will be the fourth time we've brought them both to Baltimore---the first time was for the 2007 Midatlantic Radical Bookfair (which also featured Joy James, Dahr Jamail, Ashanti Alston, Muhammad Ahmad, and a call-in from political prisoner Marshall "Eddie" Conway), the second was for our mammoth 2009 City From Below conference, and the most recent visit was for a 2011 Baltimore Free School seminar, where a packed room of people sat for six hours straight while Silvia Federici laid out the essential connections between feminism, the commons, and the refusal of work.
If you're looking for a place to start with their work to get ready for the event later in the month, we've laid out a few options below:
Here, David Harvey, speaking at the opening event of the 2009 "City From Below" conference, revisits his canonical essay on Baltimore urban history "A View From Federal Hill."
The essay appeared in The Baltimore Book, one of our all-time best sellers and still one of the best introductions to the people's history of Baltimore.