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Chelsea Manning's Next Chapter 

What does a music festival have to do with activism toward a more open government?

On the surface, not much, which makes Chelsea Manning—who rocketed toward international recognition when she was imprisoned in 2010 for leaked scores of confidential documents about the United States' wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—seem like an odd choice for Moogfest's keynote address. But her advocacy for openness transfers pretty seamlessly to creative communities that likewise benefit from enthusiastic exchanges of ideas.

President Barack Obama commuted Manning's sentence in his final days in office, and since re-entering civilian life almost exactly a year ago, Manning has plunged herself headfirst into progressive activism. Her list of causes feels almost interminable: a free press, Palestine, labor rights, and universal healthcare all have her favor, unlike fracking, racism, transphobia, the current president, and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. She touts her causes on Twitter with cheery, emoji-adorned #WeGotThis encouragements. What most of her missives have in common, though, is a dedication to fostering connections among all people, regardless of race, class, gender, or nationality.

Now, Manning is working on a book about her time in prison as she's mounting a bid for a Senate seat in Maryland. At Moogfest, however, she'll focus on discussing how privacy laws and a perpetually morphing digital world will shape creativity. Manning's busy schedule and engagement with so many social justice causes indicate that she's not content to settle down and take it easy, despite having spent the last few years in a government wringer. If she can continue to channel that energy into meaningful action—whether it's in Washington, D.C., online, or both—Manning stands to grow into one of this generation's most powerful advocates against oppression.

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