If you need know only one thing about Angela Davis, it is that she has dedicated her life to helping the oppressed. Many scholars focus on either academia or activism, but Davis has successfully engaged in scholarly work that reflects much of her activism.
Davis was born in Birmingham, Alabama on January 26, 1944. She grew up in a hostile segregated South where she witnessed many eye-opening experiences. She became exposed to issues of inequality, discrimination, and liberation. A favorite book of Davis’s was The Communist Manifesto. When she attended Brandeis University, she got involved in organizations fighting for rights and equality. While studying abroad, she stumbled on a copy of the Herald Tribute that detailed a story about a bombing at the 16th Street Baptist church in Birmingham, Alabama. The bombing claimed the lives of four young girls whom she was familiar with. The incident was linked to white racist supremacy groups, Klu Klux Klan and Nacirema. This event made her realize the reality of the civil rights movement.
While completing her master’s at University of California, San Diego, she became active in many progressive organizations like the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, the Black Student Union, and the Black Panther Party. To explore her communist beliefs, she visited Cuba to work alongside sugarcane workers. She soon came to learn that their system of government did not exploit workers like capitalism greed does. When she finished her dissertation, she was appointed an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at University of California, Los Angeles. Davis’s association Communist Party U.S.A. and the Black Panther Party resulted in her being let go from her teaching position, because she was seen as becoming too radical. While she fought hard for renew her appointment as a philosophy lecturer in 1970, Governor Ronald Reagan claimed, “that she would never work in the state of California again.” [Read more...]