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Preserving Black Memory: A Conversation with Oakland Culture Keepers

May 21 from 1:00 pm 2:30 pm

The exhibition Angela Davis: Seize the Time centers around a rich archive collected by the Oakland-based activist and archivist Lisbet Tellefsen. This material speaks to Angela Davis’ story and the practice of preserving Black legacies more broadly. This discussion will delve into some of the challenges posed by social and institutional erasure and will consider ways to gather, sustain, and give life to Black material culture both tangible and intangible. The program will explore the multifaceted methods of memory work, including documenting social movements, objects as memory, and strategies for keeping Black history alive.

The panel includes activist and archivist Lisbet Tellefsen; Odette Pollar of Rainbow Sign, a Black centered Bay Area cultural icon, performance venue, political organizing nexus and a legendary cafe; and Damien McDuffie, founder and creative director of Black Terminus, a creative studio and augmented reality platform for Black art and the Black cultural archive. The conversation will be moderated by Leigh Raiford, Professor of African American Studies at the University of California at Berkeley.


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Lisbet Tellefsen is a community archivist, cultural producer and documentarian. Her work focuses on late 20th century African Americana with specializations including Angela Davis, the Black Panther Party and black queer culture. 

Odette Pollar is a nationally acclaimed speaker, author of 5 books, newspaper columnist, trainer and consultant. She has been the Executive Director of the non-profit, The Plant Exchange, the largest plant swap in the country for the last 15 years. Odette’s parents started The Rainbow Sign and she has inherited the artifacts and materials documenting this amazing institution. 

Damien McDuffie is a creative technologist, digital archivist, and developer primarily concerned with augmented reality (AR) art experiences. Influenced by Dr. Huey P. Newton’s treatise on  “Technology Question,” he developed an augmented reality camera app and platform for Black archives and culture called Black Terminus AR. 

Leigh Raiford is Professor of African American and African Diaspora Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where she teaches, researches, curates and writes about race, gender, justice and visuality.  At Berkeley, Raiford is also Co-Director with Tianna S. Paschel of the Black Studies Collaboratory, a three year initiative to amplify the world-building work of Black Studies funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.