ANGELA DAVIS – BY: Chris Martin
Angela Yvonne Davis was born on January 26th, 1944 in Birmingham, Alabama right during the era of the Jim Crow Laws. Angela Davis is still alive to this day at the age of 63. Her father was a college graduate of St. Augustine’s College, which was a traditionally black college located in North Carolina and he was also briefly a school teacher but soon left due to the low paying wage. Angela’s mother was also college educated and was also a teacher in the elementary division. The family developed a modest income so they were able to move into a larger home in a neighborhood that was marked with racial conflict. During Angela’s childhood she experienced much segregation and humiliation from racism but regardless was able to be stronger then it and decide to begin to fight these issues .
Angela went on to attend the college of Brandeis University in Waltham to study French. After graduating from Brandeis University she spent two years at the faculty of philosophy at Johann Wolfgang von Goethe University in Frankfurt, West Germany before studying under Herbert Marcuse at the University of California. Angela was greatly influenced by Marcuse, especially his idea that it was the duty of the individual to rebel against the system. Because of this influence in 1967 Angela Davis decided to join the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Black Panther Party and then the following year afterwards, she joined the American Communist Party.
Angela was very active in attempting to improve prison conditions and she became very interested and active in a case involving George Jackson and W.L.Nolen who were two African Americans who developed a Black Panther’s chapter while located in prison, but were soon after found dead and beaten by a prison guard who had committed justifiable homicide. Davis then sometime down the road was said by the FBI to have brought a pistol into the prison for aid in the return fight against the prison guards. Due to this Angela was forced to run from the FBI and remained free for 2 months before she was captured and taken to trial and found to be not guilty.
Angela then went on to become a professor teaching African American Studies at Claremont College and then continued on to teach women’s and ethnic studies at San Francisco State University. In 1979 Angela was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize and was made honorary professor at Moscow State University. She is also none for publishing the following books: If They Come in the Morning: Voices of Resistance (1971), Angela Davis: An Autobiography (1974), Women, Race and Class (1981) and Women, Culture, and Politics (1989).
Before doing this small research paper on Angela Davis, I had never heard of her and the things she has done before. This is most likely due to my lack of knowledge in the study of feminists and those who have fought for racial issues. She may not have been as promoted or as big as someone such as Martin Luther King Jr. in the fight for the stop to racism, but even her part in the fight clearly helped, even more so because she showed that women can fight with just the same effort if not more so in some cases. I think she can teach me in my own life that just because you see something happening in front of you and you feel it is wrong, doesn’t mean you have to go along with the greater majority, you can fight for what you think is right, which is something I think everyone should learn.