My essay “Home Rule: Equitable Justice in Progressive Chicago and the Philippines” has been published…
Anna Deavere Smith performs oral histories in bare feet so that she can walk in the words of her subjects. An award-winning actress, playwright, teacher, and author, she is also pushing history/legal history into new domains. Deavere Smith explores controversial subjects from multiple points of view: women’s relationship to justice and law, genocide in Rwanda, rioting in New York’s racially charged Crown Heights neighborhood. In this performance for the non-profit ideas organization TED, she portrays fellow oral historian Studs Terkel, a female prison inmate, a Korean-American woman reflecting on the Rodney King police brutality trials, and a bull rider. Her latest production Let Me Down Easy will air on PBS’s 2011-12 Great Performances series.
See also “Broken Sentences: Women in Prison tell their Stories,” The New Yorker, 26 February 1996, p. 158-163, and listen to selections from the digital Studs Terkel/WFMT oral history archives at the Chicago History Museum. The Terkel audio-recordings—radio interviews, readings, and musical programs—document the political, cultural, and literary history of Chicago and the United States from the 1950s through the 1990s.
Anna Deveare Smith in Twilight: Los Angeles, photograph by Adger W. Cowans