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Alumna, activist Rosa Clemente to reflect on MLK's legacy

By: Daniel Aloi,  Cornell Chronicle
January 13, 2017

Rosa Clemente, M.P.S. ’02, will provide a critical reflection on the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Jan. 24 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Africana Studies and Research Center, 310 Triphammer Road.

Clemente’s talk, “Continuing the Dream: The Significance of Modern Political Activism and Social Justice,” is hosted by the Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives. The event is free and open to the public, with hors d’oeuvres provided. RSVP online.

Clemente is an Afro-Latina community organizer, journalist, hip-hop and social justice activist, and political commentator. She’s also a doctoral student in the W.E.B. Dubois Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her scholarly work includes research on national liberation struggles in the United States, and the effects of counterintelligence on such movements; sexism in hip-hop culture, and black and Latinx cultural, political and racial identity.

As the Green Party’s vice presidential nominee in the 2008 election, she and U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney were the first women of color presidential ticket in American history. They received more than 161,000 votes.

Born in the South Bronx, Clemente has said she was inspired to activism after the 1992 Rodney King verdict, while she was an undergraduate at the University at Albany.

At Cornell, she wrote her Africana studies master’s thesis on the Young Lords Party in Puerto Rico and was a founding member of La Voz Boriken, a campus organization supporting Puerto Rican independence and political prisoners. She coordinated the first National Hip-Hop Political Convention in 2003, attended by more than 3,000 activists; and has been a board member of Black Lives Matter, the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, the National Priorities Project and the Brecht Forum.

“Activism can happen with 5,000 people or it can happen when you’re walking home and you see the police putting three black kids against the wall,” Clemente said in 2015 on MSNBC's Reid Report. “Are you gonna keep walking home? Or are you gonna stand there? Are you gonna watch? Are you gonna at least be a witness to what’s happening?”

Clemente has written for Ebony magazine and other publications, and consults on issues including hip-hop activism, media justice, voter engagement among youth of color, third-party politics, intercultural relations, immigrants’ rights and universal healthcare. She founded Know Thy Self Productions in 1995 as a speakers’ bureau, presenting workshops and lectures at more than 200 colleges, universities, high schools and prisons.

Event cosponsors include the Latina/o Studies Program; Africana Studies; Feminist, Gender & Sexuality Studies; LGBT Studies; LGBTQ Resource Center; Cornell College of Business; Diversity Programs in Engineering and the Graduate School Office of Inclusion and Student Engagement.

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