Today is May 1st, a great time for us all to be re-inspired byLucy Parsons, a #BlackIndian Latina resistance leader. She taught us how to resist, as she helped organize the first May Day march of 1886, setting up modern protest as we know it today. If it weren’t for Lucy, we might all be working 16 hours a day in factories from childhood on. She was an intersectional feminist and mother of the sit-down strike (sit-ins in the 1960s and Occupy most recently).
This week we bring you Kelly Gallagher, creator of Purple Riot
Tell us about your background and how you got started with your calling in life.
How do you identify with Lucy Parsons?
Lucy Parsons is a hero of mine. When I was a union organizer I remember feeling like the labor history that was most widely shared felt steeped in legacies of white men. That was of course really frustrating since I knew that many women and folks of color have spent their lives struggling for the working class, fighting capitalism, patriarchy, and white supremacy. Last year around the time of May Day, I remember talking with some filmmaker friends about wanting to make a film about for May Day. I had been interested in making a film about Lucy Parsons for some time, both because I wanted to create more access to knowledge about her inspiring legacy and life story, but also because I wanted to spend the time myself researching and learning more about her incredible and persevering life. So it was around last May Day that I began the journey of making More Dangerous Than a Thousand Rioters. I made the film because her legacy matters. Lucy Parsons’ life can and should inspire us to resist, to struggle, to fight back today.
What are your proudest moments?
As an Assistant Professor of Media Arts, I’m always getting to feel proud of the inspiring work my students make. I think in general, I feel most proud when I get to play some small role in encouraging others to make their own film and animation work.
What have your biggest challenges been and what do you anticipate in the future?
Aside from the exhausting and consuming challenges that living in a capitalist society bring, my biggest personal challenges as an animator usually revolve around time management. There is never enough time to animate and film all the stories of resistance that I’d ideally like to animate, so I just have to continue to do the most I am able to in the time that I do have.
How are you using your voice? And how are you helping others do the same?
I use my voice to share and animate stories of resistance and resilience. Martha Colburn once said that animation is like resurrection because in animation you can bring things back to life. Animating stories of resistance allows for us to explore the past more deeply, so that we may find inspiration and encouragement as we struggle and fight back today. We can learn from those who have struggled before us, and we can implement what we learn as we resist in our contemporary moment. As a Media Arts professor, and as someone who runs community film and animation workshops, I continually work to make filmmaking and animating more accessible to more and more folks, so that they may share their diverse stories and experiences and voices.
What do you want to change about the world? And how will you do it?
I want and fight for an end to capitalism and the patriarchy, and the destruction of white supremacy. As a white filmmaker, I want to continue to explore ways in which white folks can be more than just allies in struggle, but can be actual accomplices in the fight against racism (FROM ALLY TO ACCOMPLICE, 2015). As a woman, I want to continue exploring and sharing histories of often-overlooked women revolutionaries, as well as sharing my own personal experiences fighting against the violence of sexism. As a filmmaker committed to fighting capitalism, racism, and sexism, I want to continue creating films that allow for more access to knowledge about folks whose legacies of struggle matter. Outside of filmmaking, I will continue struggling and resisting in my local community.
What’s next for you?
Right now I’ve been commissioned to do some exciting animation for an upcoming documentary by Jeffrey Palmer. When that wraps, I hope to begin work on my next animated documentary about Cumann na mBan, a group of Irish women revolutionaries who played an (often overlooked) role in the struggle for Irish independence.
If you feel Lucy Parsons’ spirit of resistance lives in you, get in touch! We’d love to hear about you and your activism.