Feminist, activist, author, and scholar, as well as a major figure in the Civil Rights movement with an international following
Date of Interview:
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Charlottesville, VA – University of Virginia
Radical feminist, activist, author, and scholar, Angela Davis first became known nationally and internationally as a fugitive after being charged as a conspirator in the failed attempt to free George Jackson, who was one of the Soledad Brothers, from prison in 1970. She was imprisoned for sixteen months.
Although Davis was later fully acquitted, she was the third woman to appear on the FBI’s Most Wanted List. Davis became a symbol of racial injustice for the Black Power and Black Panther movement. After her arrest and imprisonment in 1970, her case became an international cause, inspiring the “Free Angela” movement. Following her release from prison, Davis moved to Cuba in support of fellow radicals. Davis has run for U.S. Vice President on the Communist Party ticket twice.
Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Davis spent her earliest years of education in segregated schools. Davis also had the opportunity to attend high school in New York City, where she was exposed to Communist youth movements. Davis joined the Communist Party in 1968 following the assassination of Martin Luther King.
Davis sought higher education at Brandeis University, where Herbert Marcuse became her mentor; the Sorbonne in Paris; the University of Frankfurt, and UCLA, where she became an assistant professor of philosophy in 1969. At the urging of then-governor Ronald Reagan, the Board of Regents of the University of California fired her for her Communist affiliation. In spite of this opposition, Davis has spent the majority of her academic career as a professor, teaching at the Claremont Black Studies Center, San Francisco State University, and at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Since her retirement, Davis has held the position of Professor Emerita in the History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies Departments at the University of California Santa Cruz.
Now in retirement, Davis remains active as a public intellectual. She has lectured all over the world and has been widely published in journals and anthologies. Additionally, Davis has authored six books and countless essays.