Angela Davis The Figurehead

By Morgan Clark

If you have looked up or read anything about the Black Panthers, then you have seen her before. Angela Davis has been an activist since she was young. She was born and raised in Brigham, Alabama. Davis knew about racism and discrimination at a young age. Her neighborhood was called “Dynamite Hill” due to the Ku Klux Klan continuously targeting their homes.  She was friends with one of the victims in the 16th Baptist Church Bombing. At the age of 15, Davis moved to New York for high school. She then studied abroad in Germany at the Frankfurt school, a school focusing on social theory and critical thinking. She came back and became active in the Communist Party and the Black Panthers

In 1970, Jonathan Jackson stormed the Marin County Courthouse taking hostages of the judge and three jurors in an attempt to demand the release of the Soledad Brothers, a group of African American inmates who were charged with killing a white prison guard. As a result, both Jackson and the judge were killed. Unfortunately, it was Davis’ shotgun that was used for the invasion. She was soon charged with first degree murder and aggravated kidnapping. She fled to New York but was caught and served 18 months in prison. She gained attention from many famous people such as Aretha Franklin who paid for her bail and the Rolling Stones who wrote a song about her, turning her into a figurehead for political activism. In 1981, she wrote her first book “Women, Race and Class”. She continues to be a champion for activism, being recently interviewed about Breonna Taylor, pointing out that it’s often unacknowledged that black women were also both victims of lynching and also activists working to end lynching.

Davis is currently at the University of California Santa Cruz, where she teaches courses on feminism and  the prison abolition movement. Davis is an inspiration for many women. She has always been a voice against oppression. Her powerful interviews have been included in documentaries. Angela Davis has made a pathway for women all around and will continue to do so.