By: Jasanna Sevier
Last Wednesday at the College Avenue Student Center, the retirement of Rutgers Professor Lennox Hinds was celebrated by a lecture reflecting his achievements over the years. Angela Davis, a notable social justice activist, was the keynote speaker for the lecture as the two professors and friends influenced and boosted each other careers along their journeys.
Professor Lennox Hinds began teaching at Rutgers University in 1972 after graduating from Rutgers Law School. Although, he stated that night that he never wanted to practice private law, Hinds “went to law school to represent the people’s movement”. He sought out to represent the publicly unpopular clients. Just some of his clients include: Nelson Mandela, Assata Shakur, Angela Davis, and several Black Panthers. Professor Hinds reminisced about how it was touring with Mandela here in America and joked about him counseling him to make sure to mention Aretha Franklin whilst they were in Detroit.
The topic shifted to a more serious note as Hinds reflected on the basis on which his job and life was and is so difficult here in America. “Police crimes” was a phrase that was repeated throughout the night from both Hinds and Davis. Professor Hinds explained that the “law is intrinsically intertwined with [police] operations” but unfortunately, “the law in the United States have never been a friend of Black people.” As he put it, all of these “great” American leaders were declaring a free country while standing on stolen Native American land and in front of thousands of their slaves. This just foreshadowed the type of country we were going to be born into. We can see this today as these cops are walking free after killing black victims or how Black people and people of color are punished far worse than white people for the same crimes. It seems that the only thing the police are good at is keeping the system in place, meaning keeping the black people at the bottom of this monopoly capitalist system.
Co-founder of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression with Professor Hinds, Angela Davis, continued this theme of reflection and contemplation about current situation. Davis and Hinds have known each other for about 43 years, meeting while she was charged for murder, kidnapping and conspiracy in jail. After being captured on this day, October 13, in 1970 and then placed into a psych ward and solitary confinement, she was later acquitted with the help of Professor Hinds along with other lawyers. Afterwards, she and Hinds used that momentum to create the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression and have been working since to get imprisoned people such as Assata Shakur, Leonard Peltier, Mondo we Langa, and Mumia Abu-Jamal. Mumia’s situation in prison is very alarming as he is being prescribed the wrong medicine for Hepatitis C and authorities refuse to give him the correct one. Angela, as an abolitionist, stated that there needs to be a radical charge in the way that we live so that there does not need to be prisons and people will not have to lock people up for their whole life because it is a death sentence. As she stated, “it makes no sense to replace one death sentence with another and believe that we are moving forward.” Later during the Q&A, Angela asked a very though provoking question regarding the future of imprisonment. “How do we get rid of the behavior instead of punishing it?”
Angela Davis moved the conversation to the Black Live Matter movement. She believes that although they are very different as they come from different struggles, it is a step up from the Black Panther Movement. BLM is inclusive to feminism, to queerness in a way that the Black Panther Movement failed. It is international and relatable to other struggles around the world.
The lecture ended off with Davis reminding everyone to vote. She made sure that it was known that although she does not support Hillary Clinton, she knows that she is not voting for Trump. Jokingly, she puts it that “even if we don’t want to, we might be compelled to vote for the other candidate”. Trump will ruin all of the freedom that minorities have gained in America and with Hillary, we can at least hold out until the next election while hopefully creating and building a new political party with the interest of things like: feminism, LBGTQA, animal brutality, Black, Latinx and Asian communities, environmental policies, disabilities, and much more.
Professor Lennox Hinds left some advice for the activists whom have begun to lose hope. He stated that “you have to not be a sprinter, be a marathoner…You have to pace yourself…You either surrender or you fight.”