Angela Davis
by Ra'Mond Thomas

"More power to Anglea Davis! May she live long in liberty."
--Charles Carry

First of all I would like to thank God for allowing me to get through this--in one piece. Next I wanna throw a long distance "Thank you" to Angela Davis. She has inspired me more than I thought before I started on this paper. She, along with some others, believes in true equality. Equality where no person is better than any other person: where equality lies far beyond being able to drink out of the same water-fountain or being able to share the same seat on a public bus. This equality is an equality that will probably never exist in the US a country that is not so much separated by colors or shades as it is economic standings.
Back to acknowledgements...I would again like to thank Sheleshia Miller for her helpful input on my first copy. Also, I would like to thank Melissa, for being patient and kind and gentle and sweet and soft hearted to this working young black male student struggling all on his own trying to make it through this wonderful system we call Capitalism. Seriously, I want to thank you Melissa for taking out extra time in your schedule to help me out.


Male: John "J.J." Jamison
Female: Angela Y. Davis

Male: Timothy Bryant
Female: Karen Jigger

Male: Timothy Bryant
Female: Angela "Smarty Pants" Davis

Male: John "J.J." Jamison
Female: Angela Y. Davis

Male: Oscar "Bologna" Meyer
Female: Angela Y. Davis

African America: Portrait of a People. Kenneth Estell: pp 56.

November 12, 1962

Dear Diary,

My first year and a half here at Brandeis was very successful. But it's not enough, I want more. I want to travel abroad, go places, see new things, explore. I have the chance to study at the Sorbonne in Paris, France for my entire junior year of college. All because I study and do well in my classes. My mom said it would all pay ot'f someday. Some people call me brilliant-I just work hard.
I can't give this opportunity up. Not many 19 year olds have this chance so, I'm going. Look out France here I come.

African America: Portrait of a People. Kenneth Eaten: pp 56 -57.

Mobile Times

September 16, 1963

Blaze in Birmingham

Yesterday four negro girls were killed in a church bombing in Birmingham, AL. Reasons and responsible persons behind the blaze are still under investigation.The prime suspects in this disaster are the KKK and Nacirema (Both White supremist organizations. Nacirema derived from American spelled backwards).
Mary Jones, a Sunday School teacher at the church told reporters, "You ain't even safe in church no more." She also went on to say that this was the church of the Birmingham High School scholarship recipient who is presently studying in Paris, Angela Davis. Jones says that Davis would be astounded by this news.

Angela Davis: An Autobiography. Angela Davis- pp 128-131. .

Diary entry belore Angela returned to the states. At the time of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, AL.

September 16, 1963

Dear Diary,

I can't believe it. I can't believe they bombed that church and killed those four innocent girls. I grew up with all four of them. Our families were close. Now, they're gone. The bastards tried to put an end to the movement of blacks; something that was going to truly free every black citizen of Birmingham. The KKK, Nacirema, or whoever it was, I'll just call 'em "They"-- They knew our people were rising so, They did what They thought was best; They tried to invoke fear when there was not much to be afraid of anymore. When I picked up the Herald Tribune and read the headline I tried to erase the words with my mind. But the words would not go away. They, the words, just stayed there and longer they stayed; the more intense was my anger. My friends here have no understanding at all of the political problcms in the U.S. No, the men who did this are not vicious killers They are merely products of an ill society. Something has to be done. I can no longer keep my mouth shut and not say anything about all of this. I guess this shy girl is gonna have to break her shell.

Angela Davis: An Autobiography. Angela Davis: pp 128-131.

This poem was written with the mind of Angela Davis after the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL.

The Elements

Earth, wind, fire, and water
Were the early elements of this planet.
Greed, hatred, pain, and suffrage
Would have been elements if They had ran it.

No fault to Them that Their thoughts
And Their actions were full ol anger and rage.
They were logically reacting the way
That They should according to Their time and age.

Now four little girls innocent and sweet;
Their little parties have suddenly ceased.
So I say farewell give a hug and a kiss
To Carol, Cynthia, Addie, and Denise.

Angela Davis: An Autobiography. Angela Davis: pp 128-131.

August 20, 1969

Dear Diary,

I can not believe he actually asked if I was a member of the Communist Party, USA. I have every right to belong to the CPUSA. What difference does it make that I am a member anyway? It's not as if I don't have every qualification one can imagine to teach at this University. I mean...I am a Brandeis Phi Beta Kappa. Come studied at the Sorbonne and Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt, Germany. I studied with Herbert Marcuse, the best in philosophy, and they think they are gonna take my job from me simply because I decided to share Communist beliefs? No way. No how. I am gonna fight this to the end.

"The Case of Angela The Red" Time. October 17, 1969.
"The Fugitive" Time. August 31, 1970.

June 15, 1970


Jonathan has been acting really weird here lately. He's been talkin' crazy stuff. Saying that his brother was going to get off the hook when he goes to court in August. As if he was really certain about it. We've been fighting long and hard for the fair treatment of his brother, George, and his two friends while they are in prison. They have respectively been titled "The Soledad Three". I hope he's not thinking about doing anything crazy at the Marin County courthouse. Since we've started fighting for better treatment of the Three, he's gotten pretty upset. Maybe I should just tell him to relax until the trial. Meanwhile, I'll hide my guns--just kidding!

"The Professor's Guns" Time. August 24, 1970.


To: All Faculty

From: Ronald Reagan, Governor

Date: June 19, 1970

This memorandum is to inform everyone that, through extensive court cases and rebuttals, Angela Davis, Professor of Philosophy, will no longer be a part ot the UCLA stalf. As head of the Board of Regents, I, nor the board will not tolerate any Communist activities at any state institution. Communists are an endangerment to this wonderful system of government that we all share and are proud of. Please keep in mind that in 1949 it was reaffirmed that any member of the Communist Party is barred from teaching at this institution.


Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan, Governor

Angela Davis: An Autobiography. Angela Davis: pg 379.
"The Case of Angela The Red" Time. October 17, 1969.

Channel 45 6:00pm News

August 24, 1970

"The Professor's Guns" Time. August 24, 1970.
Angela Davis: An Autobiography. Angela Davis: pg 6.


Angela Davis

For her participation in the Marin County Courthouse shootout.
She has been charged with kidnap, conspiracy, and murder.

This woman has been known to be a member of the Communist Party.
She is also a known Maoist.
She has been known to associate with the Black Panther Party.
Also, she was the gun runner for the B.P.P.

African America: Portrait of a People. Kenneth Estell: pp 56-57.

SCENE I: Setting is a hotel room in New York City. The room is dimly lit with a slight stench in the air. Angela Davis has been on the run for a month now. The two women in this scene are getting dressed trying to look like Angela Davis. This was the thing to do among many black women in an attempt to fool FBI and police detectives on Angela Davis' whereabouts.

Girl 1: Girl, shet up and put this damn earring in my ear.
[She turns her head to the left as she hands girl 2 a hoop earring about three inches in diameter.]

Girl 2: Oh...okay, but don't say nothing when you feel something banging on yo motha fuckin eardrum.
[She snatches thc carring from girl I and steps closer to her. She then pulls Girl 1's ear lobe and jabs the earring into her ear.]

Girl 1: [Shouting] Damn girl!
[Slowly, she turns around and looks in the mirror. She then pulls her afro wig on her head while trying to loosen the tight elastic straps. Girl 2 steps back to get a good look at her.]
So...don' t just stand there like a bump on a log, tell me how beautiful I am. Tell me that Angela Davis' mother would think I'm her child!

Girl 2: [Nodding her head "no" with a look of disgust on her face.] Girl, the only person who would claim you as their child is God and you would still have to repent fo' yo' nasty sins befo' he do dat! [pauses, then smiles] Naw you know I'm just pullin' yo' chain, right? [Girl 1 releases a slight and subtle smirk.] You do know I'm just pullin' yo' chain, [with more force] RIGHT? [Girl 2 reluctantly nods "yes."] you like my dress? [not allowing Girl 1 a response] Chile, [choppy] I-am-tell-in'-you. Diane Von Furstenburg knew what she was doing when she designed this dress. She really knew what she was doin' when she named it Angela. What I really think though is that she saw me one day, walking down the street, and...and...yeah, she said, "I know the perfect dress for her... I'II put stripes on it and call it "Angela." Oh yeah, I can hear Diane say...

Girl 1: [Raising her hands up and closing her eyes pausing between words.] Shet the fuck up! [Resumes normal speech] Your imagination is about as wild as a thirteen year old fatherless child in the Bronx. Wake up and smell that Spanish motherfucker with the donkey. We all know, well at least most of us, know that Mrs. Furstenburg designed this dress for Angela Davis. That dress is bold like Angie, bright like Angie, and a sign of changing times just like Angie.

Angela Davis: An Autobiography. Angcla Davis: pp 15.

Diary entry of Angela Davis while she was in Florida, still on the run.

September 20, 1970

Dear Diary,

What am I gonna do? I am here torn between my race, groups within my race, and the Communist Party. I returned to the States after the Sixteenth Street church bombing with a desire to do something. A desire to help the movement. A desire to be a catalyst in change. Instead, I get tossed in my ideas. Sometimes I wish I could be my own group and maintain my Marxist, Black Panther, Communist, and equal rights views. None of these groups would be flexible enough to accept the ideas of the other. The Black Panther Party will; though, be flexible enough to accept some Marxist ideas.
What I do know is that Capitalism needs to he replaced and if it takes being a Communist to do that; I guess my options dwindle. I recently read an essay by Julius W. Hobson. It was published in a book titled, "Many Shades of Black". His words were so powerful and fit my beliefs well. He said, "If Black Power means moving to the left, it must move toward creating a world economy that produces for need rather than for profit. It must fight to create a system that, by its very nature, eliminates starvation. It must join the world struggle that, by its very nature, eliminates starvation. It must join the world struggle for a classless society that believes in ownership of the world's national resources by the peoples of the world. It must declare itself the mortal enemy of the exploitation of man and must view all men, regardless of color, as earth-born companions and fellow mortals. In short, it must join directly those forces which are making revolutions everywhere."

"Many Shades of Black." Stanton L. Warmly and Lewis H. Fenderson: 380.
Angela Davis: An Autobiography. Angela Davis: pg 163.
"Enigmatic Angela." Time. October 26, 1970.

Diary entry of Angela Davis' mother the day she was caught in a NYC motel.

October 13,1970

Dear Diary,

Why did she run? She knew she knew she ain't have nothin' to do with those killings. Now they done caught my baby girl. This gone be the hardest splinter for her to pull out. She sitting all alone in that big 'ol city. In the white man's jail. Lord, I fear for my baby. What's gone happen now, Lord? All evenin' long they been broadcasting, "Angela no longer on the run." I hate the way they make my baby look on that television. She ain't even do nothin'.
Sometimes I wish she had just stayed the same shy girl she was in high school. Every since they bombed that church she just could not keep her mouth closed about politics and equality. Don't get me wrong, Diary, I'm proud of Angie and support her in all of her beliefs. I'm just scared for her. I guess I'll just sit here and pray and hope she'll be alright.

Angela Davis: An Autobiography. Angela Davis: pp 115-20.

October 14, 1970

Dear Mom,

They done caught your baby girl. Oh well, I couldn't run forever. I would have gone crazy living my life on the run that way. Oh ma, you should have seen it. It was like I was "Angela the Invincible" or something. There was at least 10 cars that picked David and I up at the motel in Manhattan. I have two good lawyers though, Margaret Burnham and John Abt. Mom, I'm scared. The only thing that's keeping me from breaking down totally is the sounds of the chants. The echoes of my supporters sweeps through the prison halls and reassures that everything is going to be fine. I can hear them as I write this letter, "Free Angela Davis, Free Angela Davis..." I know I'm safe. Even the young black security officers give me the scoop on things. The sad part and most upsetting of all this mess is that I only wanted to be me. I would not back down from what I believed in. Why can't I be me?

I love you.

Your daughter,

Angela Davis: An Autobiography. Angela Davis: pp 23.

Conversation between Angela Davis and a female security officer. The conversation takes place soon after her arrest.

Security Officer: You want some breakfast?
Angela: Yes, please.
Security Officer: It's only eggs, bacon, and oatmeal. They don't serve the finest cuisine around here, you know. Would you like some coffee with that too.
Angela: That would be wonderful. You're so kind.
Security Officer: (Whispering) All of us here are behind you. You ain't got nothin'a worry 'bout. We were really hoping they would send you here and not to one of those other jails where you be treated like shi...I mean crap. I would be honored if you could sign this. (She slipped a small piece of paper under the bars.)
Angela: (Whispering back) It would be my pleasure. (She signs the small piece of paper and slides it back under the bars with a cordial smile.) Here you go girl. Remember, stay strong.
Security Officer: (Smiles back and stans to leave and steps back) Do you hear the chants outside for you? (Angela nods "yes") I would be out there too but...
Angela: I know and I understand... you have a job to keep.
Security Ufficer: But I'm chanting in my heart.(She leaves)
Angela: (With a moderate whisper) Hey! (The SO tums her head quickly and body followed almost as if in slow motion.)Here. (She reaches in her pocket and takes out a balled up piece of paper that she smooths out. She then takes out her pen and scribbles a message on it and gives it to the SO. The security officer takes the paper, places it in her pocket and hurries off.)

Later that day in the Security Officer's break room the same security officer and another female officer is alone...

SO 1: Come 'ere girl. Sit down. Look what I got from Angela Davis today...naw, I'll just read it to you. (She smooths out the paper and recites)
Whenever you're feeling lowly,
And your heart is full of fear,
The echoes that help you most
Are the echoes you never hear.

Angela Davis: An Autobiography. Angela Davis: pp 23.

June 4, 1972

Dear Diary,

The trial was a complete victory-after 13 weeks. The prosecution attempted to prove their case based on circumstantial evidence and on that I was obsessed with one of the defendants on trial at the time of the murders. I wasn't obsessed with anyone. Of course, like every other brother or sister in Marin County, I wanted the Soledad Three to get off, but not bad enough to kill innocent people. I had nothing to do with those murders, I knew that and I would say 80 percent of the prosecution knew that too.
I knew I had nothing to be afraid of. I just take this entire ordeal as another splinter in my life I simply pulled out. How long are they gonna leave me alone before they throw me back into the slammer? I don't know. What I do know is that I will maintain my dignity and my pride. I will not be a "Closet Communist" and pretend to be something I am not.

African America: Portrait of a People. Kenneth Eaten: pp 56-57.
Angela Davis: An Autobiography. Angela Davis: pp 392-95.


I placed one hand on each side, left and right.
A bit nervous for this ladder was enormous in height.
Beads of sweat formed completely across my forehead.
(It is only the larger ladders that I fear and I dread.)
I licked my lips, wiped my forehead, and prayed one last time.
I just had to do something, to procrastinate this climb.
I felt a sharp prick in my finger, so I yelled and I pulled away.
"Forget it," I thought, "I'll just climb this one some other day."
I pulled the splinter out with my thumb and my index fingernails.
I knew something would get in my way--it never, ever fails.
So, I turned and walked away with no intentions at all to stay.
But I knew if I didn't climb right now, in the end I'd have to pay.
I gritted my teeth and tapped my feet then I decided to try again.
Positioned myself and faced the ladder 'til my soul had told me when.
So, I placed one hand on each side, left and right.
A bit nervous for this ladder was enormous in height.
Beads of sweat formed completely across my forehead.
(It is only the larger ladders that I fear and I dread.)
I held my head up high and fixed my eyes directly towards the top.
With determination, I began to climb not once did I think to stop.
Alas I reached the top of the ladder, even though I may have been slow.
Then out of breath I smiled and I said, "One down and life to go."

This poem was derived from all sources listed in "Works Referenced."

Work. Struggle. Confrontation lay before us like a rock strewn road. We would walk it... But first the grass, the sun...and the people.

Angela Davis

Works Referenced
Davis, Angela. Angela Davis: An Autobiography. New York: International Publishers, 1988.

Eaten. Kenneth. African America: Portrait of a People. Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 1994.

Warmly, Stanton L. and Lewis H. Fenderson. Many Shades of Black. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1969.

"The Case of Angela The Red," Time. October 17, 1969.

"Professor's Guns," Time. August 24, 1970.

"The Fugitive," Time. August 31, 1970.

"Enigmatic Angela," Time. October 26, 1970.

Back to Teaching Index.

copyright 1996 Ra'Mond Thomas