Queen Mother Moore was an important american civil rights activist in the 20th century, first a follower of Marcus Garvey, who later turned her attention to labor, suffrage and incarceration. In 1969, she
came to Green Haven prison in upstate New York 1969 at the invitation of Think Tank, a prisoners study group that organized around education for community empowerment.
Think Tank worked with other groups inside and outside prisons, including People's Communication Network, the radical media collective who recorded the event. Queen Mother Moore tells the story of a community that arms itself to confront the powers that seek to silence Marcus Garvey. “…Everybody’s gun came out, and this is what they said, Speak, Garvey speak! Speak, Garvey!, with the guns in their hands. Speak Garvey speak..."
Power is collectively seized, passing between the collectivity and the individual as the mandate to speak. Queen Mother Moore tells this story both as a witness to this transferal and as a vehicle for its redirection towards those who are witnessing her. It is a demonstration of the power of speech itself: the witness to speech later becomes a speaker who speaks to someone else who is a witness who can (must) then speak. We understand that speech is a form of connectivity that moves through us, rather than originating with us, and we ask ourselves who has seized space for our speaking?
How do we form communities that enable and mandate speech? BLW is a process-oriented artist-activist collective whose work seeks to recover the power of speech in a culture where oral competence and physical presence are displaced by media forms. BLW is located at carbonfarm.us/blw
The video of Queen Mother Moore speaking as shot by the People's Communication Network is available at Video Data Bank vdb.org/