Malaprop’s Presents Black Lives Matter Co-Founder, Patrisse Cullors, And Her New Memoir, When They Call You a Terrorist, with Warren Wilson Professor Rima Vesely-Flad
Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Movement will discuss her book, When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir, on Friday, January 19, at the Rainbow Community Center, 60 State Street, Asheville, NC. Warren Wilson Professor Rima Vesely-Flad, author of Racial Purity and Dangerous Bodies: Moral Pollution, Black Lives, and the Struggle for Justice will be in conversation with her. This is Cullors’ first appearance in Asheville.
The event, part of Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café’s Authors for Action! series, will be ticketed, with tickets available at Malaprops.com/event. Each ticket, priced at $10, will act as a coupon toward the purchase of either author’s book. Malaprop’s is also partnering with local organizations and activists whose mission is racial justice to distribute free tickets.
Described as a “meaningful, empowering account of survival, strength, and resilience” and “necessary and timely,” When They Call You a Terrorist “asks us to remember that protest in the interest of the most vulnerable comes from love.” Cullors notes that leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement have been called terrorists and a threat to America, but that, “in truth, they are loving women whose life experiences have led them to seek justice for those victimized by the powerful.” Through the book, Patrisse Cullors and co-author asha bandele “seek to change the culture that declares innocent black life expendable.”
Cullors is an artist, organizer, and self-titled freedom fighter from Los Angeles, CA. She is a Fulbright scholar, public speaker, and an NAACP History Maker. She has been named a Civil Rights Leader for the 21st Century by the Los Angeles Times and listed among the World’s 100 Greatest Leaders by Fortune magazine. She is currently touring selected cities with her multimedia performance-art piece POWER: From the Mouths of the Occupied.
Rima L. Vesely-Flad is professor and chair of religious studies and director of peace and justice studies at Warren Wilson College. She holds a Ph.D. in social ethics from Union Theological Seminary and was the founder of Interfaith Coalition of Advocates for Reentry and Employment (ICARE) in New York State.
At the center of contemporary struggles over aggressive policing practices is an assumed association, in U.S. culture, of blackness with criminality. In her book, RACIAL PURITY AND DANGEROUS BODIES: Moral Pollution, Black Lives, and the Struggle for Justice, Rima L. Vesely-Flad examines the religious and philosophical constructs of the black body in U.S. society, examining racialized ideas about purity and pollution as they have developed historically and as they are institutionalized today in racially disproportionate policing and mass incarceration.
About Black Lives Matter and Cullors’ Involvement
Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi founded Black Lives Matter following the acquittal of neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African American teen in Sanford, Florida.The #BlackLivesMatter hashtag moved quickly from social media to the streets. The group became known nationally amid protests in Ferguson, Missouri after a white police officer shot and killed Michael brown, an 18-year-old Black man. Black Lives Matter has since grown to an international organization with dozens of chapters and thousands of activists fighting anti-Black racism worldwide. Black Lives Matter groups have also taken on inequality, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia, and helped provided relief to majority Black neighborhoods affected by hurricane Harvey in Houston.
Cullors was born in Los Angeles, CA, and grew up in Pacoima, a low-income neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley. She has described her impetus for pushing for Black rights as stemming from brutality suffered by her 19-year-old brother during his imprisonment in Los Angeles County jails: “Most disturbing,” said Cullors, “was the lack of support and absolute neglect that my brother and my family faced after he was brutalized. Part of my upbringing was a feeling of rage, but I also knew I could do something about it. With my mentors and a civil rights organization, I learned my craft [as an organizer].”
“I identify as an organizer versus an activist because I believe an organizer is the smallest unit that you build your team around, says Cullors. “The organizer is the person who gets the press together and who builds new leaders, the person who helps to build and launch campaigns, and is the person who decides what the goals will be and how we’re going to change this world.”
Cullors has spoken of being forced from her home at 16 when she revealed her queer identity to her parents, and of forming close connections with other young, queer women who were dealing with the challenges of poverty and being Black and Brown in the U.S. With Black Lives Matter, “we’re talking about all black lives, [not just] about black men dying in the hands of the police,” Cullors has stated. “We’re talking about black women, black trans people, black queer people. We want to show that under the current system of white supremacy…inside the US and around the world, anti-Black racism has global consequences. Black Lives Matters is a call to action.”
Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café is an independent bookstore and café founded in Asheville in 1982. We bring books, writers, and readers together in an environment that nurtures community, diversity, and the joy of reading. We carry a carefully curated selection of books for adults, children, and young adults, along with a large array of gift items. Author Ann Patchett, writing in the New York Times wrote: “Malaprop’s was the heart and soul of Asheville when Asheville was a sleepy little hippie town, and it’s still its heart and soul now…”