Angela Davis

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Angela Davis in 2006

Angela Yvonne Davis (born January 26, 1944 in Birmingham, Alabama) is an African American political activist and author. She first became famous because she was a prominent member of the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA) and was involved in Black Power movements in the 1960s and 1970s. Since then she has become known for her work as a writer and speaker while teaching at the University of California. She has done research in the areas of feminism and critical theory and is a prison abolitionist.

Davis grew up in Alabama, then went to college at Brandeis University and University of California, San Diego.[1] She was involved in activism from her youth. After becoming a Doctor of Philosophy in Germany, she returned to the US and began teaching as a professor. In 1969, she was fired from teaching for being a member of the Communist Party. A judge decided it was an illegal firing and the school eventually hired her back.[2]

In 1970 she was put in prison by FBI agents. Some black revolutionaries tried to break their allies out of prison by kidnapping a white judge and some jurors in Marin County, but the police didn't let them get away and the revolutionaries and judge were shot to death.[3] The FBI suspected that she bought the gun one of the revolutionaries used and decided to accuse her of the murder of the judge. In 1971 she appeared at the Marin County Superior Court and said, "I now declare publicly before the court, before the people of this country that I am innocent of all charges which have been leveled against me by the state of California." She was released from jail in 1972. Ronald Reagan said that she should never be allowed to teach at a California university. The English rock band The Rolling Stones recorded a song called "Sweet Black Angel" that was on their 1972 album Exile on Main St. and dedicated to Davis.

In the 1990s, she left the Communist Party and began to focus her activism on prisons. She gave a speech in 1997 called "The Prison Industrial Complex". In it she said "prisons are becoming an integral part of the US economy." She said that fear of young people of color was being exploited to create a fast-growing industry, the prison-industrial complex (PIC). She created a prison abolitionist group called Critical Resistance in the same year. She wants there to be no prisons or police because she believes that the US prison system is more like a new form of slavery than a criminal justice system.

Since she started focusing on prisons, she has also supported Democrats like Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Joe Biden in presidential elections.[4][5]

Davis is Distinguished Professor Emerita at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

She was married to Hilton Braithwaite in the 1980s.[6]

Notes[change | change source]

  1. "Angela Davis's Biography". The HistoryMakers. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  2. Saxon, Wolfgang (April 14, 1997). "Jerry Pacht, 75, Retired Judge Who Served on Screening Panel (Published 1997)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  3. "Black August: Marin County Courthouse Rebellion". www.colorlines.com. August 14, 2020. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  4. "Ignoring Angela Davis". CounterPunch.org. October 7, 2016. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  5. "Angela Davis backs Biden because he 'can be most effectively pressured' by the left". TheGrio. July 14, 2020. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  6. "Angela Davis Now". LA Times. March 8, 1989. Retrieved January 6, 2015.

References[change | change source]