Issue date: 3/11/08
On Wednesday, March 5, in honor of Black History Month and Women's
History Month, former Black Panther Party leader Elaine Brown
delivered her second Trinity lecture called, "The Struggle For
Justice: Then And Now," in her second visit to Trinity. Sponsored by
the Women and Gender Resource Action Center (WGRAC), the Trinity
College Black Women's Organization (TCBWO), Trinity College Black
Student Union (IMANI), and the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the
program highlighted the historic activist's "vision of an inclusive
and egalitarian society, focusing on resolving problems of race,
gender oppression and class disparity in the United States," as per
the abstract featured on Trinity Exchange.
Brown began her lecture by cautioning the audience, "I'm
long-winded." Considering that her presentation was over two hours
long, it may have been a good warning. She first addressed the
current presidential candidates, going so far as to compare Hilary
Clinton to a "Miss Ann," a derogatory term for perceived
racists/bigoted white women, and saying that John McCain "is kind of
scary," and that he would probably be elected president, "unless he
drops dead, which is a possibility."
She continued along the political vein remarking on Secretary of
State Condoleeza Rice, saying, "You can't turn her into a sister."
She emphasized the point that Rice should not be labeled a success
story, as she is "participating in killing others, other women."
Brown was very blunt and direct in her comments, throwing in such
remarks throughout her discussion as, "Bill Cosby - is he ever going
to go away?"
Brown also spoke about preconceived notions and stereotypes. Her good
use of one-liners helped convey her message and made those in the
audience laugh, chuckle, and sometimes even gasp with the shock value
of her statements, although she did say, "Don't act like I'm saying
something you don't know!"
She then launched into a slew of statistics to highlight what she
called "glaring disparities," mentioning that there is "something
wrong with the scheme of things in America." She quickly reviewed the
history of the US, recounting how colonists "wiped out 30 tribes,
even Pocahontas' daddy," and then enslaved "generations upon
generations." She called the Supreme Court's Plessy v. Ferguson
decision "devastating," and "the beginning of American apartheid."
Brown also went into specifics about the Black Panther Party,
describing the numerous coalitions they formed with such groups as
the Brown Berets, the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), and the
Irish Republican Army (IRA), because as Brown put it, "our struggles
At the end of the evening, Brown received a standing ovation and
spent about 45 minutes answering questions from the audience, which
covered a wide range or issues and topics such as the feasibility of
peacefully achieving goals to recommending what the Trinity community
can do to help further Brown's aims.
Brown's straight-forward, no-nonsense attitude was clearly a crowd-pleaser.
"I think it was vital for Trinity students to hear Brown's message
because she was being the most real with us that I think I have ever
heard any other speaker be," said Jasmin Agosto '10, a student from
Agosto continued, "She shared experiences with us at the dinner table
that we all felt were extremely personal and with that uplifting."