Thursday, 26 January 2012

Angela Davis, Civil Rights Activist

b. January 26, 1944

Revolution is a serious thing, the most serious thing about a revolutionary's life. When one commits oneself to the struggle, it must be for a lifetime.

A revolutionary of unequivocal prowess, Angela Davis has devoted her life to combating racism and sexism. Despite acrimonious attempts by the U.S. government to suppress her political influence, Davis has never wavered in her commitment towards global social justice.

Born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1944, Davis grew up under the oppression of Jim Crow laws. Her family lived in an integrated neighborhood plagued by racial conflict. Bombings by the Ku Klux Klan were so common that the neighborhood was called "Dynamite Hill." From an early age, Davis encountered political activism. Her mother was a civil rights campaigner and a member of the NAACP.
Davis was a precocious child who possessed an acute awareness of her social status as an African-American woman. By the age of fourteen, she had aligned herself with socialist and communist politics, joining the communist youth organization, Advance.
In 1962, Davis landed a full scholarship to Brandeis University, where she studied French and philosophy. In 1969, after receiving her master's degree from the University of California, San Diego and Ph.D. in Philosophy from Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany, Davis began teaching at the University of California, Los Angeles. UCLA terminated her position based on her involvement in the Communist Party USA. The university eventually reinstated her professorship following enormous pressure from national and international supporters.
In 1970, Davis was charged with conspiracy, kidnapping, and homicide after a shotgun registered in her name was used in a courthouse hostage shooting linked to the Black Panther Party. Fearing for her life, Davis went underground, becoming the third woman on the FBI's Most Wanted List. The Bureau eventually captured her. She was brought to trial in one of the most publicized criminal hearings of the century. In 1972, an all-white jury found Davis not guilty on all charges.
Davis writes and lectures on gender and race issues and remains on the faculty at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is a co-founder of Critical Resistance, a national grass-roots organization addressing reform of the "prison-industrial complex."
“Articles about and by Angela Davis.” The New York Times Archives. July 3, 2007
“Interview with Angela Davis.” PBS: Frontline. July 3, 2007
Aptheker, Bettina. The Morning Breaks: The Trial of Angela Davis. Cornell University Press, 1999
James, Joy. The Angela Y. Davis Reader. Blackwell Publishing Limited. 1998
Selected Works
Abolition Democracy: Beyond Prisons, Torture, and Empire (2005)
Angela Davis: An Autobiography (1974)
Are Prisons Obsolete? (2003)
Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday (1999)
Frame Up: The Opening Defense Statement Made (1972)
If They Come in the Morning: Voices of Resistance (1971)
Violence Against Women and the Ongoing Challenge to Racism (1985)
Women, Culture and Politics (1989)
Women, Race and Class (1981)
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