Angela Davis

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Angela Davis
Angela Davis
Davis in 2010
Birthday/Birthplace Angela Yvonne Davis
(1944-01-26) January 26, 1944
Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.
School(s) Brandeis University (BA)
University of California, San Diego (MA)
Humboldt University (PhD)
Profession(s) Educator, author, social activist
Employer University of California, Santa Cruz (retired) Emerita
Political party Communist Party USA (1969–91), Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (1991–present)
Wife/Husband Hilton Braithwaite (1980–1983)

Angela Yvonne Davis (Birmingham, Alabama, United States, January 26, 1944) is a philosopher, Marxist politician, African-American activist and professor in the Department of the History of Consciousness at the University of California. in Santa Cruz, United States.

In 1969 she was expelled from the University of California, where she taught Philosophy as an assistant teacher (having been a student of Herbert Marcuse) upon discovering her affiliation to the United States Communist Party. It was related to the Black Panther movement. She was also involved in the case of “Los hermanos de Soledad”, for which she was accused of murder and kidnapping in 1972. This case reached worldwide repercussions, which prevented her conviction. She was acquitted in 1973.

In 1974 he became a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the United States. In 1976, after publishing his autobiography, he returned to teaching. Years later, in 1984, he presented together with Gus Hall, the then leader of the CPUSA, his candidacy for the vice-presidency of his country.

Angela Davis’s Biography


Angela Davis was born in Birmingham, Alabama, on January 26, 1944, at a time when Jim Crow laws imposed racial segregation in the southern United States. His father, who graduated from a university for African Americans in Raleigh (North Carolina), worked for some time as a history teacher in a secondary school before acquiring a gas station he personally managed. His mother graduated from an Alabama university and was a primary school teacher. The place where the family lived was called Dynamite Hill (Dynamite Hill) because of the large number of Afro-American houses dynamited by the Ku Klux Klan, both their mother and father were civil rights activists and members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), before that organization was banned in Birmingham.

Angela Davis attended primary school in a segregated school in Birmingham, housed in less well equipped facilities than the school for whites, and at age 14, she was offered several options for high school, and she chose to move to New York thanks to a scholarship from the American Friends Service Committee Quaker organization, which offered the possibility to bright students of the African-American community in the South of the country to study at mixed institutes in the North. He enrolled in the private institute of progressive pedagogy Elisabeth-Irwin, in Greenwich Village.

His arrival in New York marked a new stage in his political awareness. He stayed at the home of the Rev. William Howard Melish, the pastor of the largest Episcopal Church in Brooklyn in the 1950s, a declared opponent of McCarthyism, and a member of the Soviet-American Friendship Organization. most of the professors were blacklisted by the Mac Carthy administration, and they were prohibited from teaching in public schools.

In New York Angela discovers socialism for the works of Robert Owen and the Communist Manifesto, which leads her to “place the problems of the black people within the broader context of the working class movement.” Milita for the first In a Marxist-Leninist youth organization called Advance, which is also frequented by her friends Margaret Burnham and Mary Lou Patterson. Meet then Bettina Aptheker, daughter of the communist historian Herbert Aptheker whose house hosts meetings of the organization. They participate in demonstrations in support of the civil rights movement that is experiencing a new impetus with the “sit-in” protest campaign launched in February 1960 in Greensboro, North Carolina.

University studies: Marxism and anti-racist feminism

In 1962 Davis received a scholarship to study French at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. She is one of only three African-American first-year students and her studies lead her to discover French existentialists (Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus). The university course was marked by a series of lectures by writer James Baldwin on literature, during which the missile crisis in Cuba took place. Baldwin refused to continue and decided to speak of the crisis in a general assembly next to Herbert Marcuse, whom Angela first heard, who had several jobs that year that allowed him to pay for a trip to Europe, where he visited London, Paris, Lausanne, and Helsinki where he attended the World Festival of Youth and Students.

His career included a stay in France. While in Biarritz where he spent a month, he learned that four girls he knew had been killed in the explosion of the Birmingham Baptist Church in September 1963. Angela stated that the attack was not the result of isolated racist behavior, but the expression of “the daily routine, often monotonous, of racist oppression”. After spending a month in Paris, he spent the summer in Frankfurt where he attended lectures by the German philosopher Theodor Adorno. Back in Brandeis, he attended a series of Marcuse lectures on European political thought since the French Revolution. After graduating, and following his advice, he decides to study philosophy in the faculty of philosophy of the J.W. Goethe of Frankfurt (West Germany) in 1965.

In Germany he frequents students of the German Socialist Student Federation (Sozialistischer Deutscher Studentenbund or SDS), often visits East Berlin and participates in demonstrations against the US intervention in Vietnam. Meanwhile in the States United the African-American liberation movement is evolving and tends to radicalize in the wake of the movement known as Black Power. Frustrated at not being able to take part in the militant effervescence that reigns in her country, she decides to return after two years.

He opted for the University of California at San Diego where Herbert Marcuse taught that he accepts to direct his thesis, initially supervised by Theodor Adorno. Davis was greatly influenced by Marcuse, especially his idea that it was a duty of the individual rebel against the system.

Davis is also a distinguished emeritus professor at the Department of History of Consciousness at the University of California at Santa Cruz, where she has joined the staff with Donna Haraway, Hayden White and Teresa de Lauretis.

Political militancy

In 1967 Davis joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and was close to the Black Panther Party, although he never formally joined. The following year he joined the American Communist Party.

Davis started working as a professor of philosophy at the University of California, Los Angeles. When the FBI, in 1970, informed the heads of Davis, the California Board of Regents, that she was a member of the American Communist Party, they fired him.

Angela Davis and Erich Honecker in Berlin, September 1972.

Davis participated in the campaign to improve conditions in prisons. He was especially interested in the case of George Jackson and W.L. Nolen, two African-Americans who established a branch of the Black Panthers while they were in Soledad prison in California. On January 13, 1970, Nolen and two other black prisoners were killed by one of the jailers. A few days later, the Monterrey County Jury found that the guard had committed a “justifiable homicide”.

When afterwards, a guard was found murdered, Jackson and two other prisoners, John Cluchette and Fleeta Drumgo, were accused of his death. It was argued that Jackson was seeking revenge for the death of his friend, W.L. Nolen.

On August 7, 1970, George Jackson’s brother Jonathan, 17, broke into the Marin County court with a machine gun and after taking Judge Harold Haley as a hostage, demanded that George Jackson, John Cluchette and Fleeta Drumgo were released. Jonathan Jackson was shot and killed when he was driving away from the court.

In the following months, Jackson published two books, Letters from Prison and Soledad Brother. On August 21, 1971, George Jackson was machine-gunned in the courtyard of the San Quentin prison. He carried a 9mm automatic pistol and the officers said he was trying to escape. It was also stated that the gun had been smuggled into the prison by Davis.

Angela Davis at the launch of her book Mujer, raza y clase at the Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid, Spain 2005.

Davis fled and the FBI named her one of the “most wanted criminals.” She was arrested two months later at a New York motel, but was acquitted of all charges at the trial. However, due to his militancy activities, the governor of California, Ronald Reagan, asked that Davis should not be allowed to teach at any of the state universities.

Davis worked as an African-American studies lecturer at Claremont College, from 1975 to 1977, before becoming a professor of ethnics and women’s studies at San Francisco State University. In the same way, he showed solidarity with the Sandinista struggle in Nicaragua. In 1979, Davis visited the Soviet Union where he received the Lenin Peace Prize and made an honorary faculty at the Moscow State University. In the early 1990s Davis returned to the University of California, teaching courses at the Santa Cruz campus. In 1980 and 1984, Davis ran for the US presidential election as vice president of the communist candidate Gus Hall.

In the February 1997 issue of the American gay magazine Out, she publicly declared herself a lesbian.

In 2006, she was awarded the Thomas Merton Prize, in recognition of her struggle for justice in the United States and the world.

In December 2014 he received the title of Doctor Honoris Causa from the University of Nanterre, France.

More Facts about Angela Davis

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