Angela Davis

Angela Davis

"We have to talk about liberating minds as well as liberating society." - Angela Davis


Illustration by Tiffany Mallery

Illustration by Tiffany Mallery

Activist, educator, and writer, Angela Davis was born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1944 in a segregated area known as "Dynamite Hill," a middle-class neighborhood frequently bombed by the Ku Klux Klan. At a young age, Davis was introduced to African-American history from her grandmother and attended civil rights activities with her mother.

In her youth, Davis was exposed to more liberal ideas when she moved to New York with her mother and attended Elizabeth Irwin High School, a school known for its leftist Communist leanings. There, she learned about socialism and communism and joined a Marxist-Leninist group. Her ideas for radical political change continued to develop during her study abroad in France when she met students from African colonialist nations and further ignited after the Birmingham church bombing that killed four girls.

Davis continued her education pursuing a graduate study of philosophy at the University of California in San Diego where she associated with groups like the Black Panthers and the Che-Lumumba Club, an all-black branch of the Communist party. After graduating, Davis began teaching at the University of California in Los Angeles as an assistant professor of philosophy but was fired for her involvement in the Communist Party. After protests from the students, faculty and administration, she was reinstated by court order.

In the early 70s, Davis became active in a movement dedicated to improving prison conditions for inmates and became a strong supporter of the Soledad brothers, three prisoners who had tried to organize a Marxist group and were often abused by the prison officials. She organized protests and publicly called for their release. In a courtroom rescue attempt by one of the brothers of the "Soledad brothers', a shoot-out ensued and several people were killed including a judge. Davis was implicated because the guns were registered under her name and went into hiding. She was eventually found in New York and held in prison for over a year. During her imprisonment, the "Free Angela" movement began to grow, protesting the abusive power of the criminal justice system. The Rolling Stones, John Lennon and Yoko Ono dedicated songs to Davis.

In 1972, Davis was acquitted of all charges and she began a national lecture tour speaking out about civil rights, prison reform and social change. Angela Davis's career fighting for social and political change in the interests of the repressed continue today. Her most recent act of protest was at the Women's March in Washington, DC.



"I chose Angela Davis because of her unending work and dedication to her roles as an activist and a scholar. She is unapologetic in her beliefs, her presence is powerful, and knowing her story and what she's been through as an activist, it's inspiring to see that she is still active in raising hell." - Tiffany Mallery


The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. is America's premier legal organization fighting for racial justice. Through litigation, advocacy, and public education, LDF seeks structural changes to expand democracy, eliminate disparities, and achieve racial justice in a society that fulfills the promise of equality for all Americans. LDF works both through the courts and through advocacy to the executive and legislative branches, educational outreach, monitoring of federal and state government activity, coalition building and policy research. Additionally, through its scholarship, fellowship, and internship programs, LDF helps students to attend and graduate from many of the nation’s best colleges, universities, and law schools and to develop a lasting commitment to racial justice and public service.

Matthew Henson

Matthew Henson

Shirley Chisholm

Shirley Chisholm