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autumn/winter 2018

Letters to the South

Alexis Pauline Gumbs

Dear Auburn Avenue Research Library, 


        Thank you.   You were my very first time machine. 

Into the past, when for my tenth grade history project on the women in the Black Panther Party, I first entered your walls and found with awe that I could read every issue of the “The Black Panther.”  I thought I had missed it, but in fact you had kept it all.  I have never stopped visiting archives since.  For my intimacy with Black history as a portal to infinite love, I thank you.


And into the future, when with my teenage comrades on the Youth Communications “Know Your Rights” team used your programming space to create an imaginary car out of four chairs and to train ourselves and each other on what to do when and if the police decided our colorful youth was too loud and to brave, that the future was too much to stomach.  How to parse our rights from our privileges.  How to know abuse and refusal by their first names.  I have never stopped working with my peers to imagine justice.  For a space to envision a future braver than the state, I thank you. 


With gratitude and love, 

             time traveler, space cadet, abolitionist, friend

                                                                        Alexis Pauline Gumbs

ALEXIS PAULINE GUMBS, PhD is the author of M Archive: After the End of the WorldSpill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity and the forthcoming Dub: Finding Ceremony. She is also the co-editor of Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines. Sista Docta Alexis Pauline Gumbs is widely published and recognized for her research on women of the African diaspora and her very first research site was the Auburn Avenue Research Library. She lives in Durham, NC where she is the co-founder of the Black Feminist Bookmobile Project and the Mobile Homecoming Living Library Archive and Trust.

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