In Conversation with Black Arts, Black Lives: Lunch with Shamell Bell

DUC 330, 1:00pm



In Conversation with Black Arts, Black Lives seeks to extend conversations with artists, scholars, and activists whose work advances black humanity through the study and practice of art.

Shamell Bell is a mother, community organizer, choreographer and PhD student in Culture and Performance at UCLA’s World Arts and Cultures/Dance. Bell received her M.A. in Ethnic Studies from UC San Diego and B.A. with Honors in American Studies and Ethnicity specializing in African American Studies at the University of Southern California. Involved in the original formations of the #blacklivesmatter movement, she is a core organizer with Black Lives Matter Los Angeles alongside prominent organizers Patrisse Cullors and Professor Melina Abdullah. Her activism focuses on using her artistic talent and knowledge of arts and culture for the movement. She is also a member of Blackout 4 Human Rights with notable directors Ryan Coogler, Ava Duvernay, Jesse Williams, among others, serving as a community organizer liaison assisting with campaigns such as #Justice4Flint and #iKneelwithColin.

She also co-founded, the Black Infinity Complex, a liaison organization building coalitions and an united front between those fighting against Black premature death and state-sanctioned violence. The Black Infinity Complex launched a freedom school based off of Fred Moten and Stefano Harvey’s “The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study” that received rave reviews in Robin DG Kelley’s “Black Study: Black Struggle” in the Boston Review (March 2016).

Shamell’s work on what she refers to as “street dance activism” situates dance as political action from her perspectives as a dance and performance scholar, a dancer, and an active member and choreographer for the Black Lives Matter movement. Shamell has a long history and experience with street dance movements and as a dancer in David LaChapelle’s documentary “Rize,” in addition to featured roles in various music videos, award shows, and tours. She also conducted original research with the Ranger$, a well-known dance crew in the Jerkin’ movement, for her undergraduate senior thesis. Shamell’s doctoral research currently extends this work with a performance studies lens and historio-geographical anaylsis of street dance movements in South Central Los Angeles. Her passion is to create a dialogue between the street dance community, activist community, and the academy that includes the street dancer’s actual presence at academic institutions in the form of dancing, speaking, teaching, and writing.

The Black Arts Black Lives (BABL) Series with American Culture Studies (AMCS) at Washington University in St. Louis seeks to chronicle the work of black artists, and foster creative work into and research of black art through collaborations among scholars, artists, and communities within and beyond Washington University. During the Fall 2017 semester, Jasmine Mahmoud teaches “Black Lives Matter: Art, Theory & Practice.” In coordination with guest speakers brought to this class, the events of the Black Arts Black Lives series are all open to the public. This event is co-sponsored with the Center for Diversity & Inclusion.

Please RSVP to by no later than October 20th.

Terri Behr

Events & Accounting Assistant