Encyclopedia of Modern Worldwide Extremists and Extremist Groups

By Stephen E. Atkins | Go to book overview

D

Davis, Angela Yvonne (1944-)

Angela Davis, a leading left-wing radical intellectual, was born on January 26, 1944, in Birmingham, Alabama. Her schoolteacher parents represented the growing black middle-class in the South. They were also active members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Her early childhood was spent in the Dynamite Hill area of Birmingham where Ku Klux Klan members raided on a regular basis. Davis was a precocious student and at an early age won a scholarship from the American Friends to attend school in New York City. While in New York City, she lived with the family of Reverend William Melish. Both in this home and at school Davis came into contact with socialist ideas. During high school, she was active in the Communist Party youth group. Davis attended Brandeis University and studied under Marxist scholar Herbert Marcuse. After graduate work at Frankfurt University in 1965 and 1967, under another Marxist scholar, Theodore Adorno, she returned to Brandeis University to work with Marcuse. She attended graduate school at the University of California at San Diego, earned a master's degree in philosophy in 1968, and began work on her doctorate in 1969.

During the course of her academic training, Davis became active in national politics. With the civil rights movement in full swing, she joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). She also participated in the Communist Party USA and the Black Panther Party. Her association with these last two organizations caused trouble for Davis when she took a job teaching philosophy at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). She had joined the Communist Party in July 1968. Governor Ronald Reagan cited a California law that banned Communist Party members from teaching at a state university and had her fired. In the subsequent court case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the state law was unconstitutional.

This court case proved to be less important then Davis's subsequent troubles over her association with the Black Panther Party. She had become friends with George Jackson, the prison leader of the group called the Soledad Brothers. Members of the Soledad Brothers had been accused of killing a prison guard at the Soledad Prison. Jonathan Jackson, the brother of George Jackson, tried to free his brother by kidnapping hostages at the Marin County Courthouse. The weapons used in the kidnapping were registered in Angela Davis's name. In a gunfight Jonathan Jackson and a judge were killed. Davis was accused of complicity and charged with conspiracy, kidnapping, and murder. A de-

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Encyclopedia of Modern Worldwide Extremists and Extremist Groups
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Chronology of Events vii
  • Introduction xxi
  • A 1
  • B 26
  • C 57
  • D 80
  • E 89
  • F 96
  • G 110
  • H 123
  • I 137
  • J 142
  • K 149
  • L 166
  • M 184
  • N 215
  • O 230
  • P 238
  • Q 252
  • R 253
  • S 267
  • T 291
  • U 301
  • V 304
  • W 306
  • Y 326
  • Z 328
  • Selected Bibliography 331
  • Index 339
  • About the Author 375
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