Angela Davis

(b. Jan. 26, 1944, Birmingham, Ala., U.S.), militant American black activist who gained an international reputation during her imprisonment and trial on conspiracy charges in 1970-72.  The daughter of Alabama schoolteachers, Angela Davis studied at home and abroad (1961-67) before becoming a doctoral candidate at the University of California, San Diego, under the Marxist professor Herbert Marcuse.

Because of her political opinions and despite an excellent record as an instructor at the university’s Los Angeles campus, the California Board of Regents in 1970 refused to renew her appointment as lecturer in philosophy. 

Championing the cause of black prisoners, Davis grew particularly attached to a young revolutionary, George Jackson, one of the so-called Soledad (Prison) Brothers. Jackson’s brother Jonathan was among the four persons killed–including the trial judge–in an abortive escape and kidnapping attempt from the Hall of Justice in Marin county, Calif. (Aug. 7, 1970). Suspected of complicity, Davis was sought for arrest and became one of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s “most wanted criminals.” Arrested in New York City in October 1970, she was returned to California to face charges of kidnapping, murder, and conspiracy; she was acquitted of all charges by an all-white jury. Angela Davis: An Autobiography was published in 1974 (reprinted 1988). In 1980 she ran for U.S. vice president on the unsuccessful Communist Party ticket. Among her writings are the books Women, Race, & Class (1981) and Women, Culture, and Politics (1989).