Daphne Muse Letters Collection Documenting Black History Presented Wednesday

Daphne Muse
Daphne Muse will speak and read letters Wednesday on the UC Davis campus. (Courtesy photo)
Wednesday, Feb. 12, 4:30-6:30 p.m.
International House, 10 College Park, Davis
  • A conversation with Daphne Muse, hosted by Imagining America and the International House, UC Davis

Contributed by Jose de Jesus Gutierrez Rojas, Imagining America, UC Davis

Daphne Muse is a writer, activist, educator, editor, social commentator and cultural broker. Born in Washington D.C. to parents who were part of the second wave of migration from the South, she came to California in 1971.

Since 1958, Muse has kept a collection of correspondence that reflects the political and personal visions, voices and struggles of activists, revolutionaries, political prisoners, writers, artists, entertainers, heads of state and educators who drove the discourse for 20th century Black life and culture.

The collection includes 5,000 handwritten and typed letters documenting the struggles waged, victories claimed, and rites of passage celebrated in the civil rights, Black Power, pan-Africanist, women’s, and disability rights movements in the United States and around the world. They include: Toni Morrison, Oprah Winfrey, Richard Pryor, Angela Davis, Barack Obama, Alice Walker and others. It also includes love letters between Muse and her late husband, Marxist economist and activist David Landes.

Many of the letters reflect upon how tenderly activists held one another’s lives and how fiercely they fought for liberation and freedom. Some of the letters will be used in conjunction with a memoir that Muse is writing, a social justice curriculum to be developed, and others are planned to become part of a film project or stage performance.

Some millennials and members of the iGeneration have never seen handwritten letters or had the experience of writing them. Muse created a sample portfolio of the letters to present at speaking engagements and people have been fascinated to see these documents.

She has read at the Commonwealth Club and UC Berkeley to standing-room-only crowds.

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