Knowledge Session: Who Is Angela Davis?

Writer, act­iv­ist, edu­cat­or. Born on Janu­ary 26, 1944, in Birm­ing­ham, Alabama. Angela Dav­is is best known as a rad­ic­al Afric­an Amer­ic­an edu­cat­or and act­iv­ist for civil rights and oth­er social issues. She knew about racial pre­ju­dice from her exper­i­ences with dis­crim­in­a­tion grow­ing up in Alabama. As a teen­ager, Dav­is organ­ized inter­ra­cial study groups, which were broken up by the police. She also knew sev­er­al of the young Afric­an Amer­ic­an girls killed in the Birm­ing­ham church bomb­ing of 1963.

Angela Dav­is later moved north and went to Bran­de­is Uni­ver­sity in Mas­sachu­setts where she stud­ied philo­sophy with Her­bert Mar­cuse. As a gradu­ate stu­dent at the Uni­ver­sity of Cali­for­nia, San Diego, in the late 1960s, she joined sev­er­al groups, includ­ing the Black Pan­thers. But she spent most of her time work­ing with the Che-Lum­umba Club, which was all-black branch of the Com­mun­ist Party.

Hired to teach at the Uni­ver­sity of Cali­for­nia, Los Angeles, Angela Dav­is ran into trouble with the school’s admin­is­tra­tion because of her asso­ci­ation with com­mun­ism. They fired her, but she fought them in court and got her job back. Dav­is still ended up leav­ing when her con­tract expired in 1970.

Out­side of aca­demia, Angela Dav­is had become a strong sup­port­er of three pris­on inmates of Soledad Pris­on known as the Soledad broth­ers (they were not related). These three men—John W. Cluchette, Fleeta Drumgo, and George Lester Jackson—were accused of killing a pris­on guard after sev­er­al Afric­an Amer­ic­an inmates had been killed in a fight by anoth­er guard. Some thought these pris­on­ers were being used as scape­goats because of the polit­ic­al work with­in the pris­on.

Dur­ing Jack­son’s tri­al in August 1970, an escape attempt was made and sev­er­al people in the courtroom were killed. Angela Dav­is was brought up on sev­er­al charges, includ­ing murder, for her alleged part in the event. There were two main pieces of evid­ence used at tri­al: the guns used were registered to her, and she was reportedly in love with Jack­son. After spend­ing roughly 18 months in jail, Dav­is was acquit­ted in June 1972.

After spend­ing time trav­el­ing and lec­tur­ing, Angela Dav­is returned to teach­ing. Today, she is a pro­fess­or at the Uni­ver­sity of Cali­for­nia, Santa Cruz, where she teaches courses on the his­tory of con­scious­ness. Dav­is is the author of sev­er­al books, includ­ing Women, Race, and Class (1980) and Are Pris­ons Obsol­ete? (2003)

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Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal

Edit­or / PR Con­sult­ant at No Bounds
Rishma Dhali­w­al has extens­ive exper­i­ence study­ing and work­ing in the music and media industry. Hav­ing writ­ten a thes­is on how Hip Hop acts as a social move­ment, she has spent years research­ing and con­nect­ing with artists who use the art form as a tool for bring­ing a voice to the voice­less. Cur­rently work­ing in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media know­ledge to I am Hip Hop and oth­er pro­jects by No Bounds.

About Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal
Rishma Dhaliwal has extensive experience studying and working in the music and media industry. Having written a thesis on how Hip Hop acts as a social movement, she has spent years researching and connecting with artists who use the art form as a tool for bringing a voice to the voiceless. Currently working in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media knowledge to I am Hip Hop and other projects by No Bounds.

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