Inspirational People

Amilcar Cabral (1921-1973)

Cabral, the founder of the party for liberation of Guinea Bissau and the Cape Verde Islands, is one of the greatest of modern theoreticians of the African Revolution. His many theoretical advances included analyzing the role of intellectual/middle classes in liberation struggle. Cabral proposed that economically/socially entitled individuals could engage in the difficult process of “class suicide” and thus become true comrades in the struggle for human liberation. This led Cabral to develop a radical form of humanism that extended compassion towards the colonizer as well as the colonized. For these reasons Cabral rejected the use of terrorism against colonial civilian populations and argued for humane treatment of prisoners of war. Cabral emphasized the importance of developing critical thinking skills and literacy among his guerilla soldiers. He proposed establishing a form of radical democracy in Guinea Bissau and the Cape Verde Islands.

Antonio Gramsci (1891 – 1937)

Sardinian born activist, cultural critic, philosopher and revolutionary. He divided his time between union organizing and intellectual work. He was arrested by the fascist government of Italy in the 1920’s and developed many of his most important ideas while in prison. His most important concept is the idea of hegemony, which describes the roles of ideas in maintaining coercive power relationships. Gramsci theorized that in advanced capitalist countries the power structure primarily uses ideas to control the people. The ruling classes convince people to accept their chains willingly by making oppression seem like “common sense”. Gramsci believed that resistance movements needed to help the majority of the people develop critical consciousness of the actual situations that are adversely effecting their lives.

Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956)

One of the greatest literary and theatrical figures of the 20th Century, Bertolt Brecht, used the term “epic theater” to characterize his innovative dramatic theory. His new type of drama is non-Aristotelian–that is, his aim is not to purge the audience’s emotions but to awaken the spectators’ minds and communicate truth to them. In order to achieve this end, drama must not hypnotize or entrance the audience but must continually remind them that what they are watching is not real, but merely a representation, a vehicle for an idea or a fact. Brecht saw theater (and art generally) as having a crucial role in developing critical consciousness among the oppressed and marginalized.

Elizabeth Catlett-Mora (born 1915)

Born in Washington, D.C. in 1919, is a master sculptor, painter, printmaker, activist and warrior. Catlett-Mora has demonstrated a life-long commitment to fighting injustices and showing her support in the struggle for equality for the poor and oppressed. In the 1930’s, Catlett attended Howard University where she majored in design, but soon changed her major to painting. She was later introduced to sculpture at the University of Iowa, where she earned an M.F.A. As an artist and teacher, she has traveled throughout the United States and Mexico. She settled in Mexico and resumed work at the Taller de Grafica Popular with colleagues Diego Rivera, David Siqueiros and Francisci Mora, whom she wed in 1947. Catlett inspires as a visual artist who has seamlessly blended her commitments to activism and artmaking.