Angela Yvonne Davis
Angela, sister, you are welcome in this house.
— "Angela. " Liberation News Service
Biography / Criticism
Angela Yvonne Davis was born January 26, 1944, to B. Frank, a teacher and businessman, and Sally E. Davis, who was also a teacher. Davis was born in Birmingham, Alabama, at a time of great political unrest and racism in the United States. As a child, Davis's parents had many Communist friends and she subsequently joined a Communist youth group.
Davis traveled to Germany in 1960, where she spent two years studying at the Frankfurt School under acclaimed scholar Theodor Adorno. From 1963 to 1964, Davis attended the University of Paris. Davis then returned to the United States and attended Brandeis University, in Waltham, Massachusetts. After earning her B.A. (magna cum laude) in 1965, Davis flew to Germany, where she conducted graduate research. Upon returning to the U.S. , Davis enrolled at the University of California at San Diego, where she began pursuing her master's degree, which she received in 1968.
It was at the University of California at San Diego that Davis began closely studying the Communist Party. In 1968, Davis became a member of the Communist Party, as well as a member of the Black Panthers. It was her involvement in these radical groups that caused Davis to be watched very closely by the United States government. It was also these radical associations that resulted in her dismissal from her position as assistant professor of philosophy at the University of California at Los Angeles after teaching for only one year.
In 1970, Davis became only the third woman in history to appear on the FBI's most wanted list. Davis was charged by the authorities with conspiracy to free George Jackson with a bloody shootout in front of a courthouse in California. The FBI also asserted that Davis armed prisoners in the Marin County courthouse with guns that were registered in her name. After the warrant was issued for her arrest, Davis spent two weeks evading police.
During this time, a sign went up in windows of houses and businesses all across the United States. The sign read, "Angela, sister, you are welcome in this house. " Finally, Davis was discovered in a Greenwich Village hotel, and was formally charged with murder and kidnapping, even though she didn't actually take part in the shootout in Marin County, California. Davis spent sixteen months behind bars, until her subsequent acquittal on all charges.
After her release from prison, in 1971, Davis's essays were published in a collection entitled If They Come in the Morning: Voices of Resistance. In her essays, she details her belief in Communist theory, as well as her thoughts on racial oppression in the United States. Davis's friends then convinced her that she should draft an account of her life in the 1960s and 1970s. The result was Angela Davis: An Autobiography. In 1980, Davis ran for Vice President of the United States on the Communist Party ticket.
Davis's next book, Women, Race, and Class was published in 1981. Women, Race, and Class became an instant feminist classic and a text for many classes on sexism, racism, and classism. Then, in 1989, Davis published the first collection of her speeches, entitled Women, Culture, and Politics. This book documents Davis's speeches from 1983 to 1987.
Today, Angela Y. Davis continues to be a strong force for political and social activism, as well as the reformation of the prison industrial complex. She is also an accomplished cultural theorist. Davis is now a tenured professor at the University of California at Santa Cruz, and spends much of her time delivering speeches to eager audiences around the country.
Works by the Author
- Are Prisons Obsolete? (2003)
- Imagining Medea: Rhodessa Jones and Theater for Incarcerated Women (2001)
- Global Critical Race Feminism: An International Reader (1999)
- Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday (1998)
- The Angela Y. Davis Reader (1998)
- The House That Race Built (1998)
- Resisting State Violence: Radicalism, Gender, and Race in U.S. Culture (1996)
- “Nappy Happy: A Conversation with Ice Cube and Angela Y. Davis.” Transition 58 (1993): 174-92.
- Violence Against Women and the Ongoing Challenge to Racism (1992)
- Women, Culture, and Politics (1989)
- Women, Race, and Class (1981)
- If They Come in the Morning: Voices of Resistance (1971)
Works about the Author
- Abbot, Diane. "Revolution by Other Means. " New Statesman 114 (1987): 16-17.
- Bethell, Tom. "Stanford, Angela, and me. " The American Spectator 24 (1991): 9-11.
- Bhavani, Kum Kum. "Complexity, Activism, Optimism: An interview with Angela Y. Davis. " Feminist Review 31 (1989): 66-81.
- Brancato, Sabrina. “Masculinidad y etnicidad: Las representaciones racistas y el mito del violador negro.” Nuevas masculinidades. Ed. Marta Segarra and Angels Carabí. La Coruca, Spain: Icaria, 2000. 103-20. (Spanish)
- Bray, Rosemary L. "Three Women of the Movement. " The New York Times Magazine 31 Jan. 1993, 22-3.
- Buckley, William F. "The Indian at Dartmouth. " National Review 40 (1988): 61.
- Cole, Harriette. "Angela Davis: A Good-Health Advocate. " Essence 18 (1988) 67-9.
- Davis, Fania. "The Black Family and the Crisis of Capitalism. " The Black Scholar 17 (1986): 33-40.
- Davis, Francis. "Blues Legacies and Black Feminisms: A Book Review. " The New York Times Book Review 103 (1998): 16.
- Giddings, Paula. "Word Star. " Essence 20 (1989): 24.
- Gonsalves, Sandra Virginia. "Women, Race, and Class: A Book Review. " The Journal of Negro History 68 (1983): 109-10.
- Gordon, Avery F. "Globalism and the Prison Industrial Complex: An Interview with Angela Davis. " Race and Class 40 (1998): 145-57.
- Greene, Cheryll Y. "Angela Davis: Talking Tough. " Essence 17 (1986): 62-4.
- ---, and Marie D. Brown. "Woman Talk. " Essence 21 (1990): 92-94.
- Lowe, Lisa. “Angela Davis: Reflections on Race, Class, and Gender in the U.S.A.” The Politics of Culture in the Shadow of Capital. Ed. Lisa Lowe and David Lloyd. Durham: Duke University Press, 1997. 303-23.
- Maille, Chantal. "Femmes, Race, et Classe (Book Review). " Canadian Journal of Political Science 18 (1985): 662-3. (French)
- Margoshes, Pamela. "Thank you, Angela. " Essence 26 (1995): 50. Nelson, Emmanuel S. Angela Yvonne Davis (1944- ). Ed. Emmanuel S. Nelson. African American Autobiographers: A Sourcebook. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2002. 73-78.
- Snell, Marilyn Berlin. "Child Care or Workfare?" New Perspectives Quarterly 7 (1990): 19-22.
- Stevens, Jackie. "Women, Culture, and Politics: A Book Review. " The Nation 248 (1989): 279-81.
- Weathers, Diane, and Tara Roberts. "Rekindling the Flame. " Essence 27 (1996): 82-4.
- West, Audrey. "Women, Race, and Class: A Book Review. " World Marxist Review 27 (1984): 69-73.
- William, Toks. "Women, Culture, and Politics: A Book Review. " New Statesman and Society 3 (1990): 39.
Works in Languages other than English
- Hvis de kommer om morgenen: modstandsrester. (If They Came in the Morning. ) Trans. Ruchell Magee. Kobenhavn: Forlaget Tiden, 1972.
- Femmes, culture et politique. (Women, Race, and Politics. ) Trans. Gilberte Alleg-Salem. Paris: Messidor, 1989.
- Femmes, race et classe. (Women, Race, and Class. ) Trans. Dominique Taffin. Paris: Des Femmes, 1983.
- S'ils frappent à l'aube. (If They Came in the Morning. ) Trans. Rene Balby. Paris: Gallimard, 1983.
- Autobiographie. (Angela Davis: an Autobiography. ) Trans. Cathy Bernheim. Paris: Albin Michel, 1975 (1974).
- Angela Davis Parle. Paris: Ed. Sociales, 1971.
- Materialien zur Rassenjustiz = If they come in the morning: Stimmen des Widerstands. Trans. Heidi Fuchs, et al. Neuwied am Rhein: Luchterhand, 1972.
- Mein Herz vollte Freiheit: eine Autobiographie. (Angela Davis: an Autobiography. ) Trans. Walter Hasenclever. München: C. Hanser, 1975. Japanese
- Anjera debisu jiden. (Angela Davis: an Autobiography. ) Trans. Etsuko Kaji. Tokyo: Gendaihyoronsha, 1977.
- Zhenshchiny, rasa, klass. (Women, Race, and Class. ) Trans. D.A. Lisovolika. Moskva: Progress, 1987.
- Avtobiografiia. (Angela Davis: an Autobiography. ) Trans. N.V. Mostovtsa. Moscow: Progress, 1978.
- Angela Davis: autobiografía. (Angela Davis: an Autobiography. ) Trans. Francisco García Juárez y Mario Díaz Godoy. La Habana: Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, 1976.
- Si llegan por ti en la manana. . . : vendrán por nosotros en la noche. 3rd Edition. (If They Came in the Morning. ) Mexico, D.F. : Siglo Veintiuno Editores, S.A. , 1976 (1972).
- Angela Davis Habla. Trans. Ariel Bignami. Buenos Aires: De la flor, 1972.
- Självbiografi. (Angela Davis: an Autobiography. ) Trans. Annika Preis, Thomas Preis. Stockholm: PAN/Norstedts, 1975 (1974).
- Angela Yvonne Davis, Lawrence O. Holmberg, David Ethan Ellis, and L. Paul Sutton. Doing time collection, 1972-1980. Center for Southwest Research, General Library, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM.
- "Liberation News Service: Angela. " A short description of the events that took place as Angela Davis was led into prison. Documents from the Women's Liberation Movement: An On-line Archival Collection. Special Collections Library, Duke University, Durham, NC, 1997.
- Online Audio Recording of Black Panther Party Rally. In Bobby Hutton Park, Oakland, California, November 12, 1969. A discussion of Black Panthers' relation to the peace movement and position on the war in Vietnam. Originally aired on KPFA Radio, November 14, 1969. Speeches by Masai Hewett, Angela Davis, Terence Hallinan, Charles Garry. A collaborative project between Pacifica Radio and the Media Resources Center, Moffitt Library, Berkeley, CA, 2001.
Interview with Angela Y. Davis by The Two Nations of Black America
An extensive interview about Davis' political philosophy and involvement.
Davis' faculty page
University of California, Santa Cruz, History of Consciousness Department, Faculty page on Angela Y. Davis.
"Liberation News Service: Angela"
A short description of the events that took place as Angela Davis was led into prison.
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This page was researched and submitted by Janet Marie Aiello on 4/21/99 and edited and updated by Lauren Curtright on 11/5/04.