University of California - Santa Cruz
Angela Davis is a professor emeritus at the University of California at Santa Cruz, and previously taught Women’s and Feminist Studies at San Francisco State University. A 20th-century icon for the Left, Davis’s profile has seen a resurgence after her speech at the 2017 Women’s March, in which she was an honorary co-chair.
Throughout her career, there was seemingly no cause or desport too radical for Davis, who regularly toured Communist nations and embraced brutal dictatorships. Davis appeared twice on the ballot as the Communist Party’s candidate for Vice-President and has spent her career since advocating for abolishing prisons and the police.
Davis grew up between Birmingham, Alabama and New York City, and spent her early academic career being mentored by Frankfurt School academic Herbert Marcuse. In the 1960’s she became a member of the Black Panthers and Communist Parties. The Black Panthers were a Marxist-Leninist organization co-led by Huey Newton, whose involvement is suspected in multiple murders allegedly committed by the Panthers. Davis has described the Black Lives Matter movement as the “contemporary Black Panther Party.”
One of the most notorious crimes the Black Panthers or Davis were ever associated with was the Marion County Civic Center Attack. On August 7th, 1970, Jonathan Jackson stormed the Marion County courtroom and took hostages in an attempt to negotiate the release of his brother, George, who was on trial for murdering a prison guard. In the ensuing shootout, 4 were killed including Judge Harold Haley. Davis had bought the weapons used by Jonathan in the shoot-out and was later discovered to be in a relationship with George Jackson. Despite numerous witnesses who implicated Davis in the kidnapping plot to free George, she was acquitted by a sympathetic jury.
During her trial, the Soviet Union had begun vocally and financially supporting Davis. Eastern bloc nations ordered its citizens to send letters of support to Davis and to protest Ronald Reagan, who was then serving as Governor of California, for her prosecution. It is estimated that 5% of the Soviet propaganda budget was spent just on boosting Angela Davis’s image around the world. She soon visited the USSR, where she received the Lenin Peace Prize in Moscow. Davis would frequently praise and defend the Soviet Union for the rest of her career.
Despite her advocacy on behalf of prisoners, when confronted with the grim reality of the millions of dissidents in Soviet gulags, she refused to so much as lift a finger;
When asked to assist persecuted Jews in the Soviet Union, Davis refused to help with the same sentiments;
Davis has met with and offered support to radicals throughout her career. In 2009, she headlined a dinner honoring Jeremiah Wright, the pastor of former President Obama who delivered sermons blaming America for 9/11 and asking God to damn America.
An associate to Jim Jones, Davis addressed his followers at Jonestown and praised the cult-leader, who would later direct a mass suicide of hundreds at his compound, for his “struggle” against racism.
Davis describes the country and free markets as replete with racism. In an appearance at the Qatari-owned Al-Jazeera, Davis stated that racism is embedded into the fabric of our nation and that there is a “genealogical relationship” between policing and slavery. This is a central plank to Davis’s work on “abolition,” which includes the abolition of prisons, police, and capitalism at-large.
Davis has lent support for convicted cop killers Assata Shakur and Mumia Abu-Jamal. She has described Assata Shakur as a “political refugee” and a victim of FBI repression. She met with Abu-Jamal numerous times to advocate for his release, despite his confession to murdering officer Daniel Faulkner.
Davis has also advocated for the release of Marwan Barghouti. As the leader of the Al-Aqsa brigades, Barghouti was responsible for directing the suicide bombers that resulted in the murder of dozens of Israelis.
Opposed even to the existence of the state of Israel, Davis is a vocal advocate of BDS (the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement) to dismantle the state of Israel and has falsely accused Israel of numerous human rights violations. In a speech at the University of Houston, she accused Israelis of funding police brutality and racism in America.
Despite being officially retired from teaching, Davis still maintains an active schedule of lectures, speaking tours, and media appearances on and off American campuses.