Robert Hillary King was the opening speaker for the inaugural TEDx Alcatraz. In this talk, "Alone," King takes us inside the mind of someone wrongly convicted of a crime, the consequence of which was an unfathomable 29 years of solitary confinement in Louisiana's Angola State Prison. Arrested as a member of the Black Panther Party in the 1960's, he quietly reflects, "I was going to be in prison, but wasn't going to let prison be in me." In this talk, King shares parallels between modern prison and African-American slavery of centuries before. Upon his release, he vowed that while he is free from Angola, Angola will never be free of him. Robert King has been featured in numerous print, media and film articles and interviews worldwide including CNN, National Public Radio, NBC and the BBC, as well as two films, Angola 3: Black Panthers and the Last Slave Plantation and Land of the Free. We chose the TEDx name Alcatraz because of the sense of mystery that Alcatraz invokes. It is a mythic place of opposites, dualities, and polarities: it has held dangerous criminals, and also been a site for cultural revolution when indigenous peoples assembled and occupied the island in the late 60's. Did an inmate ever escape from Alcatraz? And what becomes of it now as it has transitioned from a prison into a national park? And how has this transition changed the symbology of Alcatraz as an icon in the American consciousness? Our plan is to again be on land in 2011 as we plan for a 2012 TEDx event on Alcatraz Island itself. We're looking at, as a target date, the night of December 21, 2012. We'd have ferries to return home in case the end-of-the-world calendars are wrong. We kicked off at Temple Nightclub in downtown San Francisco on December 1, 2010. The evening began at 8PM after a three course dinner, and went until nearly 1AM, as an evening some described as an intellectual rave, or as "TEDx after-hours". TEDxAlcatraz Curator Gregory Miller and Co-curator David Gurman introduced the evening's theme, "A Suspension of Disbelief" to an invited audience of 180 optimistic & big thinkers of the nocturnal kind. That night, Alcatraz was part of the theme, and we sought a set design and look & feel of being out on the Island. Our nine TEDxAlcatraz spoken talks were peppered with live music reminiscent of the days Johnny Cash performed in old San Quentin. Music in the night from The Waybacks' James Nash, The Grateful Dead's Bob Weir, TED Fellow Iyeoka, Scottish cellist Peter Gregson, fiddle extraordinaire Alisa Rose, and London's DJ Mikey Four. Over the evening they performed Bittersweet Symphony, Masters of War, Birdsong, All Along the Watchtower and Russell County Gorge. Our speakers and performers arrived the day before, coming from London, Scotland, Brazil, Boston, New York, Washington DC and Los Angeles, and included five TED Fellows. About TEDx, x = independently organized event In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.) Video produced and directed by Gregory Miller & James Nash, with Galen Oakes. TEDxAlcatraz opening trailer by Android Jones, Bob Weir, James Nash, Alisa Rose, Peter Gregson & Gregory Miller.
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