On Thursday evening, more than 350 people filed into the auditorium of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts to hear about the building of a movement. The event was the first in Mother Jones and the Bay Area Book Festival’s 2018 conversation series.
Black Lives Matter co-founder and author Patrisse Khan-Cullors joined activist and author asha bandele in celebrating their new, jointly-written book, “When They Call You A Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir.” Throughout the event, they fielded questions presented by Mother Jones reporter Jamilah King regarding Black female leadership, communicating with those who disagree, and navigating conflicts within movement work.
The two authors filled the cavernous auditorium with warmth and a heartfelt rapport, both complementing and gently teasing one another. It was a glimpse into how the two co-authored a living, breathing memoir that explores Khan-Cullors’ expansive and powerful story.
San Francisco was the last stop on their U.S. tour. King’s first question set the tone for the session as vulnerable and honest: “What gives you hope?”
“What gives me hope are rooms like this,” Khan-Cullors answered. “In this moment, when we’re living under such intense terror, stepping into a roomful of folks who—y’all are here because you love us, and love each other—feels incredibly empowering and strengthening, and it gives me so much hope.”
As both King and Khan-Cullors were nursing colds, it seemed appropriate for King to ask about a current buzzword in conversations about healing and progress: self care. “What does it really mean to care for self in this moment, and is it something you do by yourself?” King asked.
Khan-Cullors presented an idea of self-care that is radically different from the individual care she believes is prioritized today. “How do we center care in the places that we’re in?” she asked. “I think we have to do it collectively”.
For each question issued by audience members, both in person and on Facebook—what’s the role of elected leadership? How do we meaningfully engage with people who disagree with us?—they asked questions back—what does it mean to be political? What does it mean to be part of a movement? They challenged the audience to think differently, as so many good conversations do.
Post by Bay Area Book Festival intern Kate Wolffe.