Angela Davis

(b. 1944)

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Angela Davis (b. 1944) is an American political activist, professor, and author who was an active member in the Communist Party and the Black Panther Party.

She is most famous for her involvement with the Soledad brothers, who were accused of killing a prison guard. During George Jackson’s trial in August 1970, an escape attempt was made at gunpoint and several people were killed. Davis was accused of taking part in the event and was charged with murder. Evidence showed that the guns were registered to her and rumors said she was in love with Jackson, which later proved untrue. Davis went into hiding and was placed on the FBI’s most wanted list. She spent eighteen months in jail, which led to the “Free Angela Davis” campaign and the Angela Davis Legal Defense Committee. In response, John Lennon and Yoko Ono wrote “Angela” and the Rolling Stones wrote “Sweet Black Angel.”

Button with an image of Angela Davis and the words Free Angela.

Pinback button in support of Angela Davis, 1972.

2013.68.79

Gift of T. Rasul Murray

In 1997, Davis came out as a lesbian during an interview with Out magazine. Since then, she has continued to tackle oppression faced by the black community, women, and the LGBTQ+ community. After spending time traveling and lecturing, Davis returned to teaching. She served as a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she taught courses on the history of consciousness. Her interests inprisoner rights led her to found Critical Resistance, an organization working to abolish the prison-industrial complex. Davis is the author of several books including Women, Race, and Class (1983) and Are Prisons Obsolete? (2003).

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Top image: Revolutionary by Wadsworth Jarrell, 1972. © Wadsworth Jarrell. 2010.3.1