Angela Davis

Angela Davis - Activist, Life & Books - HISTORY

By Hailey Abdilla

Born on January 26, 1944, in Birmingham, Alabama, Angela Davis was born into a segregated town nicknamed “Dynamite Hill” due to the number of homes targeted by the Ku Klux Klan. Davis was faced with the horrors of racism and prejudice from a young age: she was friends with the children killed in the Birmingham church bombing and the interracial study groups she created were broken up by the police. Davis attended college at Brandeis University where she studied philosophy and later got her master’s degree at UC San Diego. After college, she started teaching at UCLA and began her activism work with groups such as the Black Panthers and the Che-Lumumba Club which is where her introduction into civil rights work began. 

Davis’ activism work took a turn in the early 70s beginning with the Soledad Brothers, who were three African-American inmates accused of killing a prison guard. Unfortunately, one of the inmates attempted to escape during the trial, leading to a shootout in which four people were killed. Davis was charged with several counts following the murder due to the fact that the gun was registered to her and she was rumored to be in love with Jackson, the man who started the shootout. Davis hid for two months as the manhunt ensued, following her capture she spent 18 months in prison before she was finally acquitted. Davis successfully defended herself in court against the obviously political charges that had been brought up against her. 

Following her acquittal, Davis returned to her teaching as she became a philosophy professor at UC Santa Cruz. She was the vice-presidential candidate for the communist party in 1980 and eventually became a presidential chair at UC Santa Cruz. Davis today is no longer a member of the communist party, but she is still an activist who continues her fight against mass incarceration, the death penalty, and other injustices that disproportionately affect African-Americans.