Angela Yvonne Davis was born on January 26, 1944, in Birmingham, Alabama. She is known for wearing many hats throughout her life so far, including being a political activist, philosopher, academic, and well-renowned author.
Angela grew up in a middle-class neighborhood that was nicknamed “Dynamite Hill” as a result of numerous Klan bombings of African American homes in that area. As a teenager, Davis hosted many interracial study groups, which were broken up frequently by the police. She was also familiar with a few of the girls who died in the 1963 Birmingham church bombing. She knew early on that equality was going to be a long, uphill battle.
Her mother was a teacher and was an active member of the NAACP. In later years, Angela’s mother pursued her master’s degree at NYU, and Angela would tag along. When it was time for Angela to choose a college, she attended Brandeis University and studied French. She also studied philosophy at the University of Frankfurt in West Germany. This is where she became interested in far-left politics, specifically Marxism.
When she returned to the U.S., she attended the University of California, San Diego for a while, then ended up in East Germany, choosing to earn herself a doctorate at the Humboldt University of Berlin. Upon returning once again to the United States, Angela joined the Communist party and declared herself to be a Marxist Leftist. Three causes she became actively involved with included Black Panthers, the second-wave feminist movement, and anti-Vietnam War initiatives.
When she accepted the position of acting professor of philosophy at UCLA, she soon clashed with the Board of Regents, first because of her communist agenda, then with her colorful choice of language.
Angela was arrested, prosecuted, and eventually acquitted of several felonies, including conspiracy to murder because firearms that were registered in her name were used during a bank robbery. After serving a year in jail, she resumed both her academic career and her passion for activism.
In the 1980s, Angela worked at San Francisco State University as a professor of ethnic studies. It was at this time she also co-founded an organization called Critical Resistance whose aim it was to abolish the prison industrial system.
In the 1990s, she moved into a more feminist-socialism role and has received various awards, including the Lenin Peace Prize. She is the author of over ten books on class, feminism, and the United States prison system, in addition to being inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.