The YWCA-Greater Capital Region recently named Saint Rose political science professor Dr. Angela Ledford the 2022 Ingenious Woman of the Year. The organization hailed her strong support for her anti-racism efforts and participation at various round tables. The group also cited her advocacy for reproductive justice and the abolition of prisons.
A professor at Saint Rose since 2002, Ledford challenges her students to examine how race, economics, class and gender shape American politics. Her courses cover modern political thought, feminist theory, and race and mass incarceration.
She is also author and contributor to numerous scholarly publications. Her 2012 book “Group Representation, Feminist Theory and the Promise of Justice” argues for a change in our electoral system to increase the representation of women and minorities. Ledford also co-wrote an article on the politics behind the removal of the Confederate flag from South Carolina.
And since 2014, she’s been a resident professor at the New York State Assembly, teaching college interns across the state, as well as her students at Saint Rose.
The YWCA-Capital Region will honor Ledford on October 19 at 6 p.m. at Franklin Plaza in Troy. (See box below for how to get involved and support the work of the YWCA.)
Here, she talks about her teaching and her evolution.
My specialization in race, class, gender, and sexuality (with a particular focus on race in America) grew out of my deep concern at a young age with the nature of power and injustice. One of my most vivid memories was watching a PBS documentary about the Holocaust. I was probably 11 or 12 years old. Growing up in rural West Texas, I hadn’t learned anything about it in school, so I started checking out books at the library. The horror was just too much for me to grasp, but I knew it was important to try to understand.
My work has evolved over time to incorporate the important nuances and complexities of intersectionality, material conditions, and social, political, and economic hegemony.
As Saint Rose classrooms become more representative of society at large, what are you learning from your students?
Because I teach political theory, my classes are intrinsically linked to what is happening in the world. I always say that we teach and learn together. I have learned so much from the lived experiences of my students, which help to inform the larger structural analysis that I hope to impart to them.
Are there hot topics in the news this summer that will find their way into your teaching?
Still. I taught democratic theory last fall, and had to completely redesign the course, given the global shifts toward authoritarianism, autocracy, and fascism. Much of this course ended up being about decentralization toward dedemocratization and, as Sheldon Wolin (the late Princeton political theorist) put it, “shrinking the political.”
How does your work in the classroom and on Capitol Hill impact the community?
Understanding how government works is crucial for anyone, regardless of their career aspirations. Politics is not something you can withdraw from as much as you want. If you unsubscribe, you are actively participating in reinforcing the status quo. And I think we can all agree that things aren’t the way they are, although we’ll surely disagree on what’s wrong and what we should do about it.
Theory and practice are mutually linked. There is no practice without a theoretical basis (however sophisticated or banal). And, as the Black Panther, Fred Hampton said, “Theory is cool, but theory without practice isn’t crap.”
What do you tell your three children (two boys and a girl) about your work?
We talk about the things that are happening in the world as they bring them up. When they hear about something they care about, and I would say climate change, women’s rights, and racial justice come up most often, we have a conversation. I ask them lots of questions about their thoughts and worries. And we talk about how to find credible information and data to inform their thinking. Then we talk about how this knowledge requires action.
Finally, what is Ledford’s law?
Haha! How did you hear about this? !
Ledford’s Law is that you cannot bring up human nature as a defense for an argument. Notions about human nature have never been stable over time or across geography, but relying on a particular conception of it (especially those dominant at a given time/region) can be incredibly persuasive and powerful, leading to redirection and rejection of aspirations and notions. of the Good and the Just without a deeper contemplation. It hurts all of us in our collective quest for what is right.
About the event
The 2022 Women of Ingenuity Awards Luncheon, scheduled for 6 p.m. on October 19 at Franklin Plaza in Troy, has a fundraising goal of $60,000 to benefit the work of the YWCA-GCR. YWCA-GCR is “one of the region’s largest providers of supportive housing for single women and women with children who would otherwise be homeless or live in substandard housing.”
Tickets range from $125 to $350 and can be ordered online.