Chapter Eleven – Angela Davis
Angela Davis is a philosopher, author, academic, activist, and a key public intellectual of the Black Power Movement. Her persecution at the hands of — and resistance to — US law enforcement and the FBI made her a global figure of anti-racist struggle. Davis since continued her work as an educator and a high-profile member of the Communist Party USA (CP). During her later career, she became a leading author and organizer in the prison abolition movement and is no longer involved with the CP.
- PhD in Philosophy from Humboldt University, East Germany
- Studied with Herbert Marcuse at the Frankfurt School
- 1969: hired as acting Assistant Professor in the Philosophy department at UCLA
- 1991-2008 Professor and chair of Feminist Studies Department UC Santa Cruz
- 1969-1970 fired at the urging of President Reagan by UCLA’s Board of Regents. Officially, her firing was built on the justification of “inflammatory language” against police officers. Unofficially, she was fired for her membership in the CP USA and for her association with the Black Panther Party.
- In 1970, she was accused of and arrested for aggravated kidnapping and first-degree murder of a California judge.
- She fled jail expecting further repression and was later re-arrested, leading to a worldwide campaign for her freedom. The FBI placed her on the list of 10 most wanted fugitives.
- Davis was acquitted in 1972 and declared free of all charges in 1980.
- Member of the Che-Lumumba Club, the all-black branch of the CP USA and a major public intellectual supporting the Black Panther Party.
- Nominated in 1980 and 1984 as candidate for Vice President of the United States for the CP.
- Co-founded Critical Resistance (1997), an organization working to abolish the prison-industrial complex.
- Writes and conducts research to expose the continuity between contemporary mass incarceration and Jim Crow laws of racial apartheid.
- Emphasizes how violence underlies day to day life for Black people.
“Racism, Birth Control, and Reproductive Rights”
- Speaks to white second-wave feminists perpetuating white supremacist institutions, practices, and attitudes regarding reproduction, birth, and motherhood.
- Calls attention to widespread, systematic sterilization abuse in the U.S. against Black, indigenous, Puerto Rican, Chicana, and poor women. Racist public policies stigmatize, deride and declare these groups as undesirable and “unfit” for reproduction.
- Aggregates data to demonstrate the systematic (that is not accidental) nature of unwanted and uniformed mass sterilization, pointing to widespread use of “racist eugenic practices directed at brown and black bodies.”
- Declares that the denial of reproductive rights is genocidal violence.
The situation has not changed significantly since the time at which Davis was writing. Women in ICE detentions today are denouncing forced sterilizations. Today, women in ICE detention facilities have come forward with their own accounts of unwanted and uninformed sterilization. Although only a few have come forward, hundreds have likely been subject to these sterilizations. It is also true, for example, that when a Black woman in the US goes to give birth, the possibilities of the baby surviving the birth — if the doctor is black — are much, much higher than if the doctor is white. Infant mortality rates for Black babies, meanwhile, are high.