Cherríe Moraga, a Chicana playwright, feminist activist, poet and essayist, will deliver a lecture at the University of Oregon Oct. 13 about the working class, both past and present.
The theme of the lecture has to do with work and what it means to come from the working class. Moraga says she will focus on the national representation of workers, how we’ve lost unions and how students find work after school.
“What I always do for presentations,” Moraga tells EW, is “I use my own writing. So, I will be reading from unpublished text relating to that theme.”
Moraga’s talk, titled “‘The Last Exhale of Our Mother’s Breath’ — The ‘Work’ of the First Generation Writer,” is presented by the UO’s Center for the Study of Women in Society and serves as the center’s keynote Lorwin Lecture on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. The name comes from a quote in her memoir, The Native Country of a Heart: A Geography of Desire, which focuses on the “legacy that our family left us.”
Moraga says, “When I was a young person, many of my relatives were members of unions. There was a sort of conscious way people identified as a working class … identifying oneself by virtue of working and jobs.”
People shouldn’t take today’s privileges and opportunities for granted, Moraga says, especially since previous generations did not have the same opportunities as the current generation.
She will also hold an Oct. 14 workshop for faculty and graduate students on activist methods and how to put them into practice politically. Moraga says she wants to try to get people beyond rhetoric and to focus on one particular project at a time.
In addition to serving as an artist in residence at Stanford University, Moraga co-edited 1980s feminist classic The Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color. She is also the recipient of the Lambda Literary Foundation’s “Pioneer” award, given to “individuals who have broken new ground in the field of LGBT literature and publishing.”
Moraga’s keynote lecture is 6 pm Thursday, Oct. 13, in the Crater Lake Room at the Erb Memorial Union, free and open to the public. The workshop for faculty and graduate students is 10 to 11:30 am Friday, Oct. 14, at the Many Nations Longhouse, located behind the Knight Law building on the UO campus.