June 2nd 2016 at the Brooklyn Museum’s Beaux Arts Court a pool of young journalist is patiently waiting to meet and interview women who have traveled different paths in their fight for social justice and human rights. The event is the 2016 Sackler Center First Awards and honors activist and educator, Angela Y. Davis. The Sackler Center First Awards celebrates women who have broken gender barriers and made remarkable contributions in their fields.
Prior to Angela Davis’ arrival we have a chance to interview Ms. Elizabeth Sackler, Board Chair of the Brooklyn Museum and founder of the Sackler Center First Awards, and Gloria Steinem, feminist, author, and political activist who will join Ms. Davis in conversation on stage.
With guests arriving and waiters traversing the court with Hors d’oeuvres, wine and cocktails, the space is filling up and all of a sudden Angela Davis is there. Everyone’s attention immediately turns in her direction.
Young activist from Girls for Gender Equality
Angela poses for pictures with Elizabeth and Gloria and other honored guests, including members of five social justice organizations: Brooklyn Community Bail Fund, Bard Prison Initiative, College and Community Fellowship, Women’s Prison Association, and Black Lives Matter. After graciously shaking hands, posing for selfies group shots and hugging everyone who approaches her, we head to the auditorium to hear activist icon Angela Davis speak about the fight for social justice then and now.
VIDEO: Elizabeth Sackler talks about social justice and it’s challenges.
The program was launched with a youth chorus from the Manhattan Country Day School performing “We Shall Overcome.” Elizabeth Sackler next welcomed everyone to the sold-out event before turning the microphone over to the First Lady of New York, Chirlane McCray for brief comments. The audience then watched an abbreviated version of “Free Angela & All Political Prisoners” the award-winning documentary by filmmaker, Shola Lynch.
A standing ovation welcomes Angela Davis and Gloria Steinem to the stage. Ms. Davis tells the audience how glad she is to be back in Brooklyn because she has lived part of her high school years on St Marks and Kingston Avenues. The conversation between the two women covers issues of the past and present as it relates to social justice, racism, and feminism. Prior to presenting the award Ms. Sackler reads a quote from An Open Letter to My Sister Angela Y. Davis, written by James Baldwin to Ms. Davis during her incarceration. In accepting the award Ms. Davis said that she gladly appreciates the reading of the letter, which had launched the campaign for her freedom.