Significant Contemporary American Feminists: A Biographical Sourcebook

By Jennifer Scanlon | Go to book overview

ANGELA DAVIS
(1944-)

Jennifer Oldham

Considered one of the founders of black feminist theory, Angela Davis' call for inclusiveness in the modern woman's rights movement is akin to the great nineteenth-century orator Sojourner Truth's call to white feminists to take notice of the class and race bias that infested their burgeoning suffrage activities. In much of her groundbreaking work Davis discusses black women's experiences during slavery and the historical interrelationships between sexism, racism, and classism. Ironically, Davis often finds herself trying to escape the shadow of her own history. Perhaps best remembered as a 1970s revolutionary who was falsely accused of murder, Davis has spent decades trying to debunk myths surrounding black women and to raise the world's consciousness about oppressed peoples.

As a black woman who came of age in the pre-civil-rights-era South, Davis was no stranger to racism. Born in 1944 in Birmingham, Alabama, she moved at age four to a middle-class neighborhood nicknamed Dynamite Hill for explosions set by whites who disapproved of blacks' disrupting their segregated community. Her mother, Sallye, was an elementary school teacher, and her father, B. Frank, was a service station owner. Davis and her three siblings were restricted to "colored" movie theaters, restaurants, drinking fountains, and rest rooms.

A shy, bright child, Davis had strong female role models. Her mother studied for her master's degree in education at New York University during the summers and had been involved in antiracist activities and the campaign to free nine young men implicated in the Scottsboro rape case. Her grandmother, who died when she was twelve, was one of thirteen children. The daughter of slaves, she urged Davis not to forget how slavery affected blacks.

Eager to escape what was termed by some as the "Johannesburg of the South" ( Davis 1989, 98), Davis traveled at fifteen to New York City to attend Elisabeth Irwin High School. There she discovered socialism, a theory that allowed her to see "the problems of Black people within the context of a large working class

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Significant Contemporary American Feminists: A Biographical Sourcebook
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Editorial Board ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • Bella Abzug (1920-1998) 1
  • Paula Gunn Allen (1939-) 8
  • Gloria AnzaldÚa (1942-) 14
  • Frances Beale (1940-) 22
  • Rita Mae Brown (1944-) 28
  • Charlotte Bunch (1944-) 36
  • Pat Califia (1954-) 44
  • Judy Chicago (1939-) 51
  • Shirley Chisholm (1924-) 55
  • Esther Ngan-Ling Chow (1943-) 60
  • Pearl Cleage (1948-) 66
  • Kate Clinton (1945- ) 73
  • Mary Daly (1928- ) 79
  • Angela Davis (1944-) 86
  • Shulamith Firestone (1945-) 98
  • Jo Freeman (1945-) 104
  • Betty Friedan (1921-) 111
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-) 118
  • Bell Hooks (1952- ) 125
  • Dolores Huerta (1930-) 133
  • June Jordan (1936-) 138
  • Evelyn Fox Keller (1936-) 145
  • Florynce Kennedy (1916-) 150
  • Audre Lorde (1934-1992) 156
  • Catharine Mackinnon (1946-) 163
  • Olga Madar (1915-1996) 174
  • Wilma Mankiller (1945-) 181
  • Del Martin (1921-) 188
  • Kate Millett (1934- ) 194
  • CherrÍe Moraga (1952- ) 201
  • Robin Morgan (1941-) 206
  • Pauli Murray (1910-1985) 213
  • Eleanor Holmes Norton (1937-) 218
  • Alice Paul (1885-1977) 223
  • Anna Quindlen (1952-) 231
  • Adrienne Rich (1929-) 238
  • Faith Ringgold (1930-) 245
  • Rosemary Ruether (1936-) 251
  • Joanna Russ (1937-) 257
  • Patricia Schroeder (1940-) 264
  • Eleanor Smeal (1939-) 271
  • Barbara Smith (1946-) 279
  • Gloria Steinem (1934-) 283
  • Margo St. James (1937-) 290
  • Alice Walker (1944- ) 297
  • Rebecca Walker (1969-) 305
  • Michele Wallace (1952-) 311
  • Sarah Weddington (1945-) 317
  • Ellen Willis (1941-) 327
  • Selected Bibliography 335
  • Index 341
  • About the Editor and Contributors 355
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