Liberation Chic

Angela Davis at a political rally in Raleigh, North Carolina on July 4, 1974. Photo courtesy of Bettmann/CORBIS.

To an earlier generation, Angela Davis, born today in 1944, is largely remembered as the woman at the center of one of the mid-20th century’s most notorious court cases, an experience which led the President at the time Richard Nixon to refer to her as a “dangerous terrorist.”  She was also a lightening-rod for controversy during her days as a professor in California and even ran for president (twice) on the Communist Party ticket.

However, she describes her interaction with members of a later generation in a different way:

…it is both humiliating and humbling to discover that a single generation after the events that constructed me as a public personality, I am remembered as a hairdo.

“Libertad Para Angela Davis” Havana, Cuba (1971)

Regardless of the circumstances that have surrounded her over the past 40 years, Davis remains a passionate and active advocate for the rights of marginalized and oppressed people. During the latter portion of her career she has largely focused on the prison industrial complex and mass incarceration. She has authored several books on the subject, including: The Prison Industrial Complex, Are Prisons Obsolete?, and Abolition Democracy: Beyond Empire, Prisons, and Torture.  Her most recent publication, The Meaning of Freedom: And Other Difficult Dialoguesis a collection of previously unreleased speeches relating to the issues around which she has carved her place in the cultural landscape: “…the interconnected issues of power, race, gender, class, incarceration, conservatism, and the ongoing need for social change in the United States.”

She continues to lecture at campuses and venues across the country, and also has a forthcoming documentary about her life, currently playing the festival circuit.

by Rob Mooney

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1 Comment

  1. Considering fervent support of Obama, I am not sure how much revolution she still has in her. There’s no true revolutionary who would seem to dare support, defend, or even excuse the actions of Obama. So sorrily disappointed in Ms. Davis.

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