Kathy Change

Kathy Change

Kathy Change (1950 - 22 October 1996) was a West Philadelphian performance artist and political activist who killed herself in an act of self-immolation on the University of Pennsylvania campus in 1996. Born Kathleen Chang, she legally changed her name to Kathy Change to indicate her commitment to political and social change. For 20 years she gave colorful one-woman street performances on Penn's campus and around Philadelphia to protest the government, during which she danced, sang, played the guitar, waved handmade flags, and made speeches. In a packet of her writings that she delivered to "The Philadelphia Inquirer", the "Daily Pennsylvanian", and several of her friends and acquaintances on the morning of her death, she explained the rationale behind her suicide:

:"I want to protest the present government and economic system and the cynicism and passivity of the people…as emphatically as I can. But primarily, I want to get publicity in order to draw attention to my proposal for immediate social transformation. To do this I plan to end my own life. The attention of the media is only caught by acts of violence. My moral principles prevent me from doing harm to anyone else or their property, so I must perform this act of violence against myself. . . . It is a waste of energy to get angry and gripe at the government. The government must be replaced with a truly democratic self-government of, for and by the people. Those working in industries essential to maintaining life should democratically take over their workplaces and organize an emergency economy to supply the needs of the people. The rest of the people should meet in their communities to organize a new directly democratic community-based self-government."

Change was briefly married to Chinese American writer Frank Chin.

University police officer William Dailey was subsequently honored at a 1997 ceremony held by the school's Division of Public Safety, for attempting to prevent Change's suicide. A speech given at the event cited Dailey's "heroism under emotionally stressful and physically dangerous circumstances". Dailey noticed the flames from Change's immolation, and when he determined that the source of the conflagration was a person, he ran forward, pushed her to the ground, and extinguished the fire by rolling her and smothering the flames with his patrol jacket. [" [http://media.www.dailypennsylvanian.com/media/storage/paper882/news/1997/05/16/Resources/Public.Safety.Honors.Top.Cops.With.Houston.Hall.Ceremony-2171868.shtml Public Safety honors top cops with Houston Hall ceremony] ", Shannon Burke, The Daily Pennsylvanian, published May 16, 1997, accessed February 22, 2007.]


External links

* [http://www.stp.uh.edu/vol62/50/Features/feat2/feat2.html "Daily Pennsylvanian" article]
* [http://www.phillyimc.org/en/2000/10/7591.shtml Philadelphia Independent Media Center article, includes her final writings]
* [http://www.toddyoung.net/img/Chang.mp3 Song about Kathy Chang]
* [http://philadelphiaweekly.com/view.php?id=13187 Philadelphia Weekly piece about the 10-year memorial event for Change]
* [http://www.fallonandrosof.com/2006/02/police-are-here.html Anthony Campuzano's Portrait of Kathy Change painting]

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