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Robin D. G. Kelley


Robin D. G. Kelley is the Gary B. Nash Endowed Chair in U.S. History at UCLA.  His books include, Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original (2009); Africa Speaks, America Answers: Modern Jazz in Revolutionary Times (2012); Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination (2002); Race Rebels: Culture Politics and the Black Working Class (1994); Yo’ Mama’s DisFunktional!: Fighting the Culture Wars in Urban America (1997); and Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression (1990). He is currently completing Black Bodies Swinging: An American Postmortem (forthcoming Metropolitan Books).  Kelley’s essays have appeared in several anthologies and publications, including The Nation, Monthly Review, New York Times, Color Lines, Counterpunch, Souls, Black Renaissance/Renaissance Noir, Social Text ,The Black Scholar, Journal of Palestine Studies, and Boston Review, for which he also serves as Contributing Editor.

To hear his insights on this text, please watch the video below.

Shamell Bell


Dr. Shamell Bell is a mother, community organizer, dancer/choreographer, theater teacher, cultural ethnographer, director, and documentary filmmaker. Bell received her PhD in Culture and Performance at UCLA’s World Arts and Cultures/Dance department. She received her M.A. in Ethnic Studies from UC San Diego and B.A. with Honors in American Studies and Ethnicity specializing in African American Studies at the University of Southern California. Her work on what she calls, “street dance activism” situates street dance as grassroots political action from her perspectives as a scholar, dancer, and choreographer. Shamell’s research examines street dance movements in South Central Los Angeles through an autoethnographic and performance studies lens. Her street dance experience includes featured roles in music videos, award shows, and tours.

An original member of the #blacklivesmatter movement, beginning as a core organizer with Justice 4 Trayvon Martin Los Angeles (J4TMLA)/Black Lives Matter Los Angeles to what she now describes as an Arts & Culture liaison between several social justice organizations such as the BLM network, Blackout For Human Rights, Sankofa.org, The Undercommons at UCLA, among others. The Undercommons were featured in Dr. Robin D. G. Kelley’s “Black Study, Black Struggle” article and wrote “No Racial Justice Without Basic Income” also published in the Boston Review. They are currently collaborating on an updated article exploring a Universal Basic Income and COVID-19. Dr. Bell serves on the advisory board of several social justice organizations such as soteria., a collective creating safe spaces at music festivals. She also consults for social justice impact in the tv, film, and music industry with credits such as “community engagement consultant” for George Tillman Jr.’s film adaptation of Angie Thomas’ best-selling book, “The Hate U Give”. In addition, she provides mentorship for aspiring creatives interning with Grammy Award winning singer and songwriter Lalah Hathaway’s #realmusicrebels. Shamell consulted as a member of a think tank for actor, activist, and rapper Common’s philanthropic company, Think Common. She often teaches alongside her 9 year old son, Seijani, who focuses on meditation and mindfulness. They were featured in Common’s supergroup, August Greene’s promo campaign for their first single, “Be Optimistic”. She and her son also serve as Radical Joy Advisors to “Contra Tiempo,” a role created by the Urban Latin Dance Theater Company with a focus on healing, socially astute performance and community engagement. Most recently she is a recipient of a grant with the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) funded community development program called “South LA Promise Cultural Mapping.” She was commissioned to lead workshops in Council District 10 at the Black cultural landmark “KAOS Network” in Leimert Park, CA that “utilizes cultural mapping strategies, ethnographic documentation, community gatherings, and free public events to identify and support the artists, cultural practitioners, tradition bearers, and sites that Los Angeles Promise Zone neighborhood residents deem significant.” Celebrating her alma mater UCLA’s centennial, she was featured in “UCLA: Our Stories, Our Impact,” a multimedia traveling exhibit sharing the stories of Bruins who have advanced equity and equality in America. In December 2019 she conducted a “Radical Love and Radical Joy” street dance activism workshop at AfroPunk Johannesburg. In Summer 2020, she was invited to join the faculty of Harvard’s “Mellon School of Performance Research” summer intensive. She currently signed on as the Activism Lead for Future X Sounds with a focus of bringing together a like-minded global music community that embraces the responsibility of their craft and leads by example while providing a platform for talent discovery and critical reflection. She curates discussions and workshops for social impact, and an online series to raise awareness, and funds related to COVID-19.