American democratic socialist, political activist, former Black Panther, Civil Rights Movement activist, twice Vice Presidential Communist Party USA candidate, founder of Critical Resistance, feminist and retired professor with the History of Consciousness Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Angela Davis will be kicking off Black History Month here at Southwestern University at 5:30 p.m. in the ballrooms on Thursday, Jan. 21.
That’s right, Angela Davis will be speaking here. Laura Burrow, former Senior Advisor for Encouraging Blacks and Others to Never Yield (E.B.O.N.Y.) and ’09 Southwestern graduate, worked with Mary Gonzalez and many other activists on campus to bring someone as influential as Davis to speak at the annual Black History Month Lecture Series.
Burrow resonated that “having [Davis] as our guest speaker will inspire us to further understand what it means to ‘never yield.’ As we work to make Southwestern University a more socially just and culturally aware campus community, we feel [Davis] can offer us guidance and empowerment.”
Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, Davis was awarded a scholarship to Brandeis University in Massachusetts in the early 60s and was one of three black students in her freshman class. Quickly befriending several young international activists, Davis decided to major in French and study in Europe for a few years. She graduated magna cum laude and a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 1965. Davis then went on to study philosophy at Humboldt University in East Berlin, where she received her doctorate.
While working as a philosophy professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, Davis established herself as an iconic radical feminist and social activist – leading to her termination from the university pressured by then-Governor Ronald Reagan, to be reinstated as director of the Feminist Studies department years later after legal action. Not one to shy away from controversy, Davis was arrested in 1970 and was the third woman to appear on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List following the abduction and murder of a California judge, though she was acquitted and released two years later.
With a strong network of radical social activists, Davis ran as Vice President to Gus Hall on the Communist Party USA ticket in 1980 and 1984.Although unsuccessful in the pursuit of the executive branch, Davis won the Lenin Peace Prize for her civil rights activism and helped found Critical Resistance, a national grassroots organization dedicated to building a movement to abolish the current penile prison system in the United States. Focusing her activism on the abolition, not reform, she will be quick to clarify, of the prison-industrial complex, Davis encourages instead education and building engaged communities to solve various social issues currently handled through state punishment.
Davis has written several books and articles on race, class, and gender, as well as the abolition of democracy and the current prison system. She is also a popular international keynote speaker, having lectured in all 50 states, as well as in Africa, Europe and the former Soviet Union.
Burrows concluded that Davis’s lecture is “particularly significant and empowering for E.B.O.N.Y. … but will undoubtedly resonate with students, faculty and staff as a whole.”
Web Ed: It is now our pleasure to present you with a a video of Angela Davis speaking at the University of California.