Now, I originally saw this idea over
at Jake Silver’s and I
have no clue as to whether this is a structured meme with codes and rules and
all of that stuff. But it just seemed to
be a good idea. So, if you regularly
write about Humpday Heroes, or are the ORIGINATOR OF THE IDEA, please let me
know – in the kindest of ways, if you please. That said, today’s hero is also today’s feminist. And on the eve of her birthday I wanted to take
a moment to recognize a few of the lifelong achievements of Angela Davis.
Angela Davis was born in Birmingham, Alabama on the 26th of January, 1944 to a school teacher and an automobile
mechanic. Because of the large number of
African American homes bombed by the Ku Klux Klan, the area where the family lived became known as
Dynamite Hill. Her mother was a civil rights campaigner and had
been active in the NAACP before the organization was outlawed in Birmingham.
In 1961 Davis went to Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts to study French. Her course included a year at
the Sorbonne in Paris. Soon after arriving back in the United States she was reminded of the civil rights struggle that was
taking place in Birmingham when four girls that she knew were killed in the Baptist Church Bombing in September, 1963.
After graduating from Brandeis University she spent two years at the faculty of philosophy
at Johann Wolfgang von Goethe University in Frankfurt, West Germany before studying under Herbert Marcuse at the University of California. Davis was greatly influenced by Marcuse, especially his
idea that it was the duty of the individual to rebel against the system.
Davis began working as a lecturer of philosophy at the University of California in Los Angeles. When the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 1970 informed her
employers, the California Board of Regents, that Davis was a member of the American Communist Party, they
terminated her contract.
Davis was active in the campaign to improve prison
conditions. She became particularly interested in the case of George Jackson and W. L. Nolen,
two African Americans who had established a chapter of the Black Panthers in California‘s Soledad Prison. While in California‘s Soledad Prison Jackson and W. L. Nolen,
established a chapter of the Black Panthers. On the 13th of January
1970, Nolan and two other
black prisoners were killed by a prison guard. A few days later the Monterey
County Grand Jury ruled that the guard had committed "justifiable
When a guard
was later found murdered, Jackson and two other prisoners, John Cluchette and
Fleeta Drumgo, were indicted for his murder. It was claimed that Jackson had sought revenge for
the killing of his friend, W. L. Nolan.
On 7th August, 1970, George Jackson’s
seventeen year old brother, Jonathan, burst into a Marin County courtroom with
a machine-gun and after taking Judge Harold Haley as a hostage, demanded that
George Jackson, John Cluchette and Fleeta Drumgo, be released from prison.
Jonathan Jackson was shot and killed while he was driving away from the
Over the next few months Jackson published two books, Letters from Prison
and Soledad Brother. On the 21st of August,
1971, George Jackson was gunned down in
the prison yard at San Quentin. He was carrying a 9mm automatic pistol and
officials argued he was trying to escape from prison. It was also claimed that
the gun had been smuggled into the prison by Davis.
Daviswent on the run and the Federal Bureau of Investigation named her as one of its
"most wanted criminals". She was arrested two months later in a New York motel but at her trial she was acquitted of all
charges. However, because of her militant activities, Ronald Reagan, the Governor of
California, urged that Davis
should never be allowed to teach in any of the state-supported universities.
worked as a lecturer of African American studies at Claremont College (1975-77) before becoming a lecturer in women’s and ethnic studies at San Francisco State University. In 1979 Davis visited the Soviet Union where she was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize and
made an honorary professor at Moscow State University. In 1980 and 1984 Davis was the Communist Party’s vice-presidential
"Progressive art can assist people to learn
not only about the objective forces at work in the society in which they live,
but also about the intensely social character of their interior lives.
Ultimately, it can propel people toward social emancipation."
Thank you Ms. Davis for
helping us find new ways to propel ourselves forward.