Hip-Hop and Revolution in Fisher Center Series – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Hip-Hop and Revolution in Fisher Center Series

The Fisher Center’s yearlong series, “Futures of Revolutions,” continues this spring with talks that span revolutionary hip-hop and community activism in Canada, to the stories of families migrating during the Cuban revolution.

On Wednesday, Feb. 21, Chris Harris, a musician and organizer in the Black community in Toronto, will deliver a talk, “Wasun’s Comrade Music: African-Canadian and Indigenous Revolutionary Hip Hop and the War of Position against Neo-liberal Capitalism in 21st Century Canada.”

From 2000 to 2009, Harris was the lead youth organizer at the Black Action Defense Committee, launching the Freedom Cipher Program in 2007. Freedom Cipher was a revolutionary anti-racist youth movement inspired by the Black Panther Party, organizing former Bloods and Crips into a “Hood2Hood” campaign to end gang violence in Toronto’s Westend. It organized young black women into “Set It Off” girls groups to close the educational attainment gap in Westend high schools.

Since 2005, Harris (a.k.a Wasun) has released three revolutionary hip-hop albums: What Must Be Done? (2005); The Prison Notebooks (2010); and Comrade Music (2015). He is completing a doctoral dissertation at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, on the history of revolutionary nationalist/communist activism in Toronto’s Black Left from the ’60s Canadian Black Power movement to the Black Action Defense Committee in the first decade of the 21st century. In 2015 Harris launched the Antonio Gramsci-inspired radical adult education institute, Freedom Justice Academy, as a legacy of the Freedom Cipher Program. FJA organizes healing, mentorship and leadership training programs for indigenous and Black federal ex-prisoners in this era of mass incarceration.

On Wednesday, March 7, Ada Ferrer, the Julius Silver Professor of History and Latin American and Caribbean Studies at New York University, will deliver a talk inspired in part by historian Carolyn Steedman’s classic analysis of the relationship between the author and her working class mother in Landscape for a Good Woman. Ferrer’s presentation will explore connections between family stories of revolution and migration, academic histories of the Cuban Revolution, and the elusive power of recognition that potentially links both.

Ferrer is the author of two award-winning books: Insurgent Cuba: Race, Nation, and Revolution, 1868-1898 and Freedom’s Mirror: Cuba and Haiti in the Age of Revolution. She is working on two projects: the first, tentatively titled “Cuba: An American History,” is a new popular history of Cuba from the arrival of Columbus to the death of Fidel Castro. The second is Visionary Aponte: Art and Black Freedom, a contemporary art exhibit she is co-curating and that will also result in a book by the same name.

Both talks will begin at 7 p.m. in the Fisher Center, Demarest Hall 212. The talks are free and open to the public.

Throughout the 2017-18 academic year, “Futures of Revolutions” speakers have engaged the HWS campus in an exploration of the successes and failures of revolutions as these political, social, economic and technological forces are envisioned, imagined, realized and lived.

Established in 1998, the Fisher Center for the Study of Women and Men brings together faculty, students and experts in gender-related fields in the arts, humanities, and social and natural sciences to foster mutual understanding and social justice in contemporary society. The Center supports curricular, programmatic and scholarly projects to more nearly realize the democratic ideals of equity, mutual respect and common interest in relations between men and women.