Melody Ermachild Chavis: Roots of Violence
Saturday, October 26, 2019 • 4:00-6:00 p.m • Gerlind Institute for Cultural Studies
Melody Ermachild Chavis has spent her long career looking deeply at the causes and conditions that underlie violence. A private investigator for capital offence defense teams, Melody specialized in the research and presentation of evidence of mitigating circumstances. Traumatic events lie behind many violent acts. The social histories Melody compiled were not excuses for crime, but attempts to understand what circumstances could cause people to offend.
Melody’s life, like the lives of so many, has been shaped by war and violence. Her father, a U.S. American Air Force navigator, was killed in Germany, in 1944, when she was a baby. After her mother married another soldier, who fought in Korea and served in atomic tests, her family was stationed in Germany, where she began to learn German, when she was a teenager.
The first person in her family to go to college, she was radicalized at UC Berkeley in the Free Speech, Civil Rights and Women’s movements. When the state of California reinstated capital punishment in 1978, she became a licensed investigator for the defense, a career she pursued for over 30 years, working on countless capital trials and appeals.
Melody is the author of Altars In The Street; Meena, Heroine of Afghanistan, The Martyr Who Founded the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, as well as essays in anthologies and journals, such as Sierra, The Sun, Yoga Journal, Shambhala Sun, Turning Wheel and others.
RSVP by October 19 to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (510) 430-2673