Last modified on June 1, 2022, at 07:05

Angela Davis

"Putting People First" was a communist slogan long before the Clintons adopted it.

Angela Yvonne Davis is a self-identified lesbian radical feminist Communist retired professor (from the University of California, Santa Cruz) and leftist activist on social and human rights issues who had close relations with the Black Panther Party during the Civil rights movement.[1] Davis was also a prominent member of the Communist Party USA. She is currently Professor of History of Consciousness at the University of California, Santa Cruz.[2]

Studying under Herbert Marcuse, a prominent figure in the Frankfurt School, Davis became increasingly engaged in far-left politics. Returning to the U.S., she studied at the University of California, San Diego before moving to Communist East Germany, where she was granted a doctorate in the Marxist school in Berlin.

Back in the U.S., she joined the Communist Party USA and became involved in Marxist organizing, the Black Panther Party, anti-Vietnam War protests, and "second-wave" feminism. In 1969, with the East German degree, she was hired as an acting assistant professor of philosophy at UCLA. UCLA's governing Board of Regents soon fired her due to her Communist Party membership; after a court ruled the firing was illegal, the university fired her again, this time for her use of inflammatory language.

Early life

Davis was raised, she told Julian Bond, by a mother who was “an officer of the Southern Negro Youth Congress,” an organization completely under the control of the Communist Party, and “was involved in the campaign to free the Scottsboro Nine.”

And as a child, I had the opportunity to spend time with black communists who had come to Birmingham to help organize there, to help organize the Southern Negro Youth Congress. … I often tell people that later, when I joined the Communist Party, it was a difficult decision because I always considered the Communist Party so conservative. It was my parents' friends, you know, I wanted to do something more interesting and more radical, but … I'm following in my mother's footsteps … My parents knew who was a member of the Communist Party and who was underground...”[3]

While still a child, her parents sent Davis to New York City, where she lived with Herbert Aptheker, the Communist Party's chief theoretician (and a child molester),[4] and his family. In New York City, Davis studied at the Little Red Schoolhouse (LRS), notorious for its Communist faculty and student body, including future Weather Underground terrorist Kathy Boudin, then at Elisabeth Irwin High School, an adjunct of LRS.


Herbert Marcuse with his student Angela Davis.

In 1961, she won a scholarship to Brandeis University. She encountered Marcuse at a pro-Soviet rally during the Cuban Missile Crisis and became his student.[5][6] Marcuse had moved to a position at the University of California, San Diego, and Davis followed him there after her two years in Frankfurt. On her way back, she stopped in London to attend a conference on "The Dialectics of Liberation." The black contingent at the conference included the Trinidadian-American Stokely Carmichael and the British Michael X. Although moved by Carmichael's rhetoric, Davis was reportedly disappointed by her colleagues' black nationalist sentiments and their rejection of communism as a "white man's thing."[7]

In 1968 Davis joined the Communist Party USA as Soviet tanks crushed the movement for democracy in the Prague Spring. She joined the Che-Lumumba Club, an all-black branch of the Communist Party USA named for international Communist sympathizers and leaders Che Guevara and Patrice Lumumba, of Cuba and the Congo, respectively.[8] In an attempt to clean up radicalism at college campuses, President Ronald Reagan urged the dismissal of Davis from UCLA because of her membership in the Communist Party.[9]

Marcuse invented the concept of “partisan tolerance,” that is, tolerance for leftist ideas and intolerance of all others.

Murder of Judge Haley


In 1970, Marin Count Judge Harold Haley's head was blown off by a sawed-off shotgun in a hostage incident in which members of the Black Panthers attempted to free Davis' lover, Black Panther member George Jackson. Jackson's younger brother took the judge, the prosecutor, and three female jurors as hostages and armed the defendants.[10][11] Davis had purchased several of the firearms used in the attack,[12] including the shotgun used to kill the judge.[13] Davis was also found to have corresponded with Jackson.[14] California considers "all persons concerned in the commission of a crime, whether they directly commit the act constituting the offense... principals in any crime so committed", and a warrant for her arrest was issued. J. Edgar Hoover listed Davis on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List; the third woman to ever be listed[15] behind Ma Barker and Bernardine Dohrn. She was apprehended and John Abt, general counsel of the Communist Party USA, represent her.[16] Davis was eventually acquitted of any role in the plotting and execution of the crime.

Peoples Temple

Jim Jones initiated friendships with progressives in the area including Angela Davis and Dennis Banks of the American Indian Movement (AIM).[17] Angela Davis addressed the crowd in Jonestown via shortwave radio in the days just prior to the final "white night."[18][19] In her statement Davis expressed support for the People's Temple and told members there was a conspiracy against them. She said,

Davis FBI poster.jpg
"when you are attacked, it is because of your progressive stand, and we feel that it is directly an attack against us as well."[20]

Black Lives Matter

See also: Obama riots and 2020 Leftwing insurrection

Dream Defenders, an organization co-founded by (the ACORN-affiliated) Working Families Party activist and Occupy Wall Street organizer Nelini Stamp, popularized the phrase “Hands Up – Don’t Shoot!” which became a Black Lives Matter (BLM) slogan. Angela Davis sits on the Dream Defenders advisory board.[21]


In 1979 Davis was awarded the International Lenin Peace Prize (formerly named the International Stalin Peace Prize) by the Communist government of East Germany. Davis ran for Vice President of the United States in 1980 and 1984, alongside Gus Hall, on the Communist Party ticket.

In a 2007 television interview, Davis said, "Herbert Marcuse taught me that it was possible to be an academic, an activist, a scholar, and a revolutionary."[22]

See also


  1. PBS Frontline interview
  2. Faculty bio at UC Santa Cruz
  3. Angela Davis, interviewed by Julian Bond, Explorations in Black Leadership (University of Virginia). Cf. Phyllis Leffler, Black Leaders on Leadership: Conversations with Julian Bond (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) ISBN 113734251X, pp. 191-192
  4. Bettina Aptheker, Intimate Politics: How I Grew Up Red, Fought for Free Speech, and Became a Feminist Rebel (Seal Press, 2011) ISBN 1580054404
  5. Germany and the Americas: O-Z
  6. Marxism, Revolution and Utopia: Collected Papers of Herbert Marcuse, Volume Six, Volume 6
  7. Davis, Angela Yvonne (March 1989). "Flames", Angela Davis: An Autobiography. New York City: International Publishers. ISBN 0-7178-0667-7. 
  8. Angela Davis Biography: Academic, Civil Rights Activist, Scholar, Women's Rights Activist. A&E Television Networks, LLC..
  9. African Americans and Criminal Justice: An Encyclopedia: An Encyclopedia
  10. Aptheker, Bettina (1997). The Morning Breaks: The Trial of Angela Davis. Cornell University Press. 
  11. "Search broadens for Angela Davis", August 17, 1970. 
  12. Angela Davis’ Archive Comes to Harvard. Smithsonian Magazine (16 February 2018).
  13. "A Shotgun That Miss Davis Purchased Is Linked to the Fatal Shooting of Judge", The New York Times, April 18, 1972. 
  14. Freedom on My Mind. Bedford/St. Martin's. ISBN 978-0-312-64884-8. 
  15. Biography. Davis (Angela) Legal Defense Collection, 1970–1972.
  16. (1993) Advocate and Activist: Memoirs of an American Communist Lawyer. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-02030-8. 
  17. Scheers, Julia (2011). A Thousand Lives: the Untold Story of Jonestown. New York: Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781451628968. Retrieved on February 5, 2019. 
  18. (1982) Raven (book). Dutton. ISBN 978-0-525-24136-2. 
  19. Angela Davis & the Six Day Siege. Alternative Considerations of Jonestown & Peoples Temple.
  20. Statement of Angela Davis (Text). Alternative Considerations of Jonestown & Peoples Temple. Retrieved on February 5, 2019.
  22. Barbarella Fokos (August 23, 2007). The Bourgeois Marxist.

External links