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New Book | Autobiography of Angela Davis

Updated: Mar 4

When you speak of the Black Liberation Movement it is without a doubt that Angela Davis is included in the conversation. She is amongst a long list of Black revolutionaries that have selflessly focused on challenging systemic racism. There is a joke about having your "Black card" revoked if you haven't watched certain movies, eaten certain foods, understand certain phrases, and etc. I believe reading certain Black literature falls in line with this thinking and Angela Davis' Autobiography is one of them.

The book opens with Angela hiding from the FBI in California after being wrongfully connected to a revolt that ended in murder at a courthouse in Marin County. This is the start of one of the most infamous trials in US history that ultimately led to her being acquitted on all charges of murder, kidnapping, and conspiracy. Prior to reading the book I honestly didn't know much about Angela besides her involvement with the Black Panther Party and the trial, specifically "Free Angela Davis." But I wanted to learn more behind the purpose of the chant. What was she in prison for? What happened? Most importantly, who is Angela Davis? Here are a few highlights that stood out to me:

  • For years Angela has advocated for prison reform and it was during her time at the Women's House of Detention in New York that opened her eyes to the horrible conditions that prisoners faced with the officers/jailers and the facility itself.

  • She was born in Birmingham, AL and shared the relationships she had with the "4 little girls" from the church bombing.

  • The Soledad Brothers case and her involvement in the campaign to bring them justice. It was heartbreaking to read about George later in the book and his younger brother Jonathan's participation in the revolt.

  • I didn't know that she was involved with SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee). She led a chapter in Los Angeles but was eventually asked to leave due to her communism involvement.

  • One thing she pointed out was her disappointment in the misogyny playing out within the Black Panther Party and SNCC. It was viewed that a woman's role was to simply support the men in the movement. Her leadership, along with other women working with her, was viewed as too domineering.

  • It was interesting to know that she speaks fluent French. A language I've been trying to learn for many years. If you want to hear, check out some of her interviews in French on YouTube.

  • Her describing the time Malcolm X came to speak at her school, Brandeis University.

Something else that I found interesting is that during the time she was in prison awaiting trial she had requested bail and was denied, which wasn't surprising. But one day she was listening to the radio and heard that the Supreme Court had abolished the death penalty in the state of California and since her bail was denied based on her being held for a capital crime she was now able to be granted bail because the judge mentioned that he would consider it if she wasn't accused of a capital crime. Angela and her team knew they would possibly get denied again but it was granted to everyone's surprise. (the book explains this much better) Later on, she found out that every judge in California had denied any bail requests after the Supreme Court's decision because they wanted to wait 90 days for the decision to be final. The judge shared that he decided to grant her bail because the courthouse was inundated with calls and letters from supporters urging him to release Angela. I found that to be so profound especially during a time like this where racist decisions to keep Black people incarcerated permeated the judicial system, especially judges. The very definition of "Power to the people."


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