Anirvan Chatterjee & Barnali Ghosh: Intersecting Black History and South Asian American History

Anirvan Chatterjee doing street theater of anti-Emergency protests (20-16) - credit Ravi Shankar

Anirvan Chatterjee doing street theatre of anti-Emergency protests. Photo by Ravi Shankar

We’re closing out Black History Month and I wanted to feature another set of superstar Bay Area activists who have invested in recognizing our community’s history as a result of the Civil Rights Movement.

Barnali Ghosh sharing histories of LGBTQ organizing (IMG_7197.JPG) - credit Rucha Chitnis

Barnali Ghosh sharing histories of LGBTQ organizing. Photo by Rucha Chitnis

Anirvan Chatterjee and Barnali Ghosh are the masterminds behind both Black Desi Secret History and the Berkeley South Asian Radical History Walking Tour. Most of us are aware of the ties that bind Martin Luther King to Mahatma Gandhi. But there are many more stories of Black activists and South Asian activists fighting for each other for over a century. Anirvan told the story of Bayard Rustin who learned Gandhian tactics to fight for Civil Rights.


Krishnalal Shridharani’s “War Without Violence” on display at the National Civil Rights Museum (Memphis, TN). Photo by Reetu Mody

Oh and by the way, I just learned that Bayard Rustin read the works of Gujarati scholar Krishnalal Shridharani, who happens to be the paternal uncle of my grandmother (I know, it’s four generations back but how cool is that?!)!

Other interview highlights:
**Activism is a part of our history, not just that weird thing second generation kids do
**Our community’s 1965-onward immigration is not possible without the efforts of Civil Rights activists
**We South Asian Americans tend to have disparate identities depending on the company and environment – but we can relax the compartmentalizing at the walking tour!

Sharing histories of the Ghadar Party at UC Berkeley (56-43) - credit Ravi Shankar

Sharing histories of the Ghadar Party at UC Berkeley. Photo by Ravi Shankar

This interview was featured for the February 29th, 2016 episode of Intersections Radio, which is now an independent podcast that airs on XRAY.FM. Check out the podcast!

Air date: 2/29/2016 

**You can also read a transcript of the interview: 022916 Intersections Anirvan Barnali Transcript