On June 4, 1972, Angela Davis was acquitted of all charges in a politically-motivated case that drew international condemnation. An activist since she was a teenager in Alabama, Davis was attacked for her politics while teaching philosophy at UCLA. A supporter of the civil rights, anti-war, and Black Power movements, Davis was charged with murder for supporting the Soledad Brothers, three incarcerated Black organizers. The campaign to free Angela Davis was organized across 67 countries, leading to her 1972 acquittal. Davis would go on to co-found Critical Resistance and write books including Women, Race, and Class; Are Prisons Obsolete?; and Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement (History). “Revolution is a serious thing,” she wrote. “When one commits oneself to the struggle, it must be for a lifetime” (American RadioWorks). The following are some notable quotes of Angela Davis to honor her lasting impact.
Jail interview, Santa Clara County, 1972
“I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. Some very, very good friends of mine were killed by bombs, bombs that were planted by racists…When the bombing occurred, one of the mothers of one of the young girls called my mother and said, ‘Can you take me down to the church to pick up Carol? We heard about the bombing and I don’t have my car.’ And they went down and what did they find? They find limbs and heads strewn all over the place…
That’s why, when someone asks me about violence, I just find it incredible because what it means is that the person who’s asking that question has absolutely no idea what Black people have gone through, what Black people have experienced in this country since the time the first Black person was kidnapped from the shores of Africa” (Mic).
Victory rally speech, five days after acquittal, 1972
“I remember very, very vividly the hundreds of women who were with me in the New York Women’s House of Detention, most of them Black and Brown women, all of them from the poorest strata of this society. I remember the women in the sterile cells of Marin County Jail, and the women in the dimly lit, windowless cells in Santa Clara County…
Let the joy of victory be the foundation of an undying vow; a renewed commitment to the cause of freedom. For we know now that victories are possible, though the struggles they demand are long and arduous. So let our elation merge with a pledge to carry on this fight until a time when all the antiquated ugliness and brutality of jails and prisons linger on only as a mere, a mere memory of a nightmare. For our vow will be fulfilled only when we, or our children, or our grandchildren will have succeeded in seizing the reins of history, in determining the destiny of mankind and creating a society where prisons are unheard of because the racism and the exploitative economic arrangement which reproduces want for the many and wealth for the few will have become relics of a past era” (American RadioWorks).
Interview on protesting, 2022
“When there are moments of upheaval, the recovery period always tends to emphasize the conservative. I think it’s important to think more capaciously about the meaning of politics. The millions of people who poured on to the streets in the aftermath of George Floyd’s lynching constituted a force that was so much more powerful than any political party. And if there is a new moment of trying to recognise structural racism that occurred as a result of those demonstrations, then I would say those people are the motors of history. It’s not about who the president was or is” (The Guardian).
Statement returning Atlanta City Council award, 2023
“I want to salute all those who are involved in the Stop Cop City movement and I want to urge people everywhere to find ways to generate support for them. Atlanta activists are on the front lines of the abolitionist movement at its crucial intersection with movements to save our forests—indeed, to save our planet…The attempt to build a massive, militarized police training facility is a dangerous and ominous development that we have to oppose to all our might” (YouTube, Capital B).