Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Friends: Margaret Burnham

BOND: Let me back up a bit in time and ask you about two people who you mentioned, one of them at least. Margaret Burnham and Bettina Aptheker, who became friends then and remain friends today. What has the relationship done to you?

DAVIS: Well, Margaret Burnham I've known all my life. I like to say we first met each other when we were in our mother's wombs because our mothers were pregnant together, right. And we have pictures of each other at birthday parties. There's a wonderful picture at Margaret's first birthday party so — and I should say that they are the — Margaret's family, the Burnhams — were literally chased out of Birmingham by Bull Connor because of the work they were doing. And later when my mother went to NYU to graduate school, she took all of her children each summer and we stayed with the Burnhams, so this really boggles my mind, how my mother was able to get all of that work done in a house in which there were six children at first and then eight children by the time she was finishing, so we've had this kind of — we've had this life. We were paired up in terms of kids because the Burnhams had four children and we were all about the same age, so we each had our counterpart in the other family. And then, of course, Margaret was the first person to show up at the jail in New York when I was arrested. She was the first attorney to — she wasn't able to get in because they didn't believe she was an attorney. She looked too young. But she followed my case from the beginning to the end. She was the only attorney who remained with me from the moment of my arrest until the moment of my acquittal. And then Margaret and I've done a lot of political work together in various organizations. We spend our vacations together.

BOND: So this is a lifetime friendship?

DAVIS: Oh, absolutely.

BOND: That's connected through family but the family connected in turn, I'm guessing, through political activities?

DAVIS: Yes. Yes. That's a good way to put it.