I feel particularly lucky to be joining the Quorum team during a month when we celebrate freedom, difficult and unevenly distributed though it may be in this country--and in this world. As I write, I find myself contemplating a quote from philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Gay Science which has long been framed on my wall: “What is the seal of freedom? To be unashamed before oneself.” Whatever your politics, whatever your lot in life, this is the freedom that I am proud to see so many members of our many communities demonstrating in these pages and in this city.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Summer, a campaign to register black voters in Mississippi that became a watershed moment in the civil rights movement. Despite incredible violence, the men and women involved in the campaign profoundly demonstrated what it is to be unashamed before oneself, even as the world around them tried desperately to convince them otherwise.
At a time when many of the legal victories of that movement are being eroded, I find myself often thinking about what today’s Freedom Summer might look like. (One possible answer is found in Yoruba Richen’s film The New Black, which screened at the Wexner Center in May and is currently on its own Freedom Summer Tour.) Would it involve coming out? Standing up? Marching forward? If, as the philosophers and thinkers I most love would have it, freedom is a fleeting thing, in need of constant renewal, constant vigilance, what can we do, as individuals and as one, to support each one of us in living unashamed? It is a question I certainly cannot answer alone.
I end with a second of my touchstone quotes, from the late Adrienne Rich, the great lesbian poet and essayist: “I think of myself...as someone for whom language has implied freedom, who is trying to aid others to free themselves through the written word.” I am honored to play a role in bringing you the words found in these pages and hope that you have found some measure of freedom within.
Angel Lemke is the new managing editor of Quorum Columbus. She is a graduate of Denison University with an MA in English Literature from The Ohio State University. Currently, she is at work on a dissertation on classism and sexuality, tentatively titled, The Dandy and the Redneck, in the interdisciplinary humanities program at Union Institute & University. She lives in Olde Towne East.