Where Is Angela Davis Now? A Legacy of Activism and Justice

May 29, 2024

Angela Yvonne Davis, an internationally recognized political activist, scholar, and author, has long been at the forefront of the fight against oppression both domestically and abroad. Her journey is marked by an unwavering commitment to justice, which began during her youth in Birmingham, Alabama, and has continued to influence movements globally.


Early Life and Activism

Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, Angela Davis grew up in a middle-class neighborhood known as Dynamite Hill, notorious for its frequent racist bomb attacks. This backdrop of racial terror deeply influenced her early life. Her activism roots took hold during her high school years in New York, where she began her journey of social justice and scholastic excellence, eventually leading her to Brandeis University and further studies in Europe.

Controversy and National Attention

In 1969, Davis's activism and membership in the Communist Party USA brought her national prominence when she was removed from her teaching position in the Philosophy Department at UCLA. This action by then-Governor Ronald Reagan highlighted the political tensions of the time. The pivotal moment in her life came in 1970 when she was placed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List for alleged involvement in a courthouse incident related to the Soledad Brothers. Her subsequent capture and historic trial resulted in a 16-month incarceration, which spurred the international "Free Angela Davis" campaign. Her eventual acquittal in 1972 was a significant victory and a testament to her resilience and the widespread support she received.

"Angela Davis, painted portrait IMG_6929004" by Abode of Chaos is licensed under CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/.

Commitment to Prisoners' Rights and Abolition

Davis’s commitment to prisoners' rights intensified through her work in the efforts to free the Soledad Brothers. She has been a vocal critic of the racism inherent within the criminal justice system and an advocate for prison abolition. In co-founding Critical Resistance, she aimed to challenge and dismantle the prison industrial complex, a term she popularized. Internationally, she extends her advocacy through her association with Sisters Inside, an organization supporting incarcerated women in Queensland, Australia.

Education vs. Prison System

Davis has consistently highlighted the problematic allocation of resources from education to the prison system. She champions a re-envisioning of society that invests in education and social programs over punitive measures. Her works and lectures over the past 25 years have been instrumental in shaping contemporary abolitionist thought and encouraging a future without prisons.

"Angela Davis, painted portrait IMG_6925003" by Abode of Chaos is licensed under CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/.

Lecturing and Writing

Throughout her career, Davis has engaged audiences globally, delivering lectures across the U.S. and on every inhabited continent. Her prolific writing includes notable works like "Angela Davis: An Autobiography," "Women, Race, and Class," "Blues Legacies and Black Feminism," "Are Prisons Obsolete?", and "The Meaning of Freedom." These works explore themes of intersectionality, freedom, and justice, solidifying her status as a critical thinker and influential activist.

"Angela Davis in 2019" by Oregon State University is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/.

Recognition and Academic Contributions

Despite the political controversies, including those surrounding her teaching career, Davis achieved significant academic recognition. Notably, she became a Distinguished Professor Emerita in the History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies Departments at UC Santa Cruz. In 1994, she was appointed to the University of California Presidential Chair in African American and Feminist Studies, affirming her role as a leading academic voice in these fields.

Continued Influence and Legacy

Angela Davis’s influence extends far beyond her initial activism. Her relentless pursuit of justice and equality inspires new generations of activists and scholars. Her enduring legacy is one of challenging systemic injustices and advocating for profound social change. From grassroots movements to academic circles, Davis's contributions continue to shape and inspire the ongoing fight for a more equitable world.

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