The Life and Activism of Angela Davis
I chose to do this research paper on Angela Davis because of her numerous contributions to the advancements of civil rights as well as to the women’s rights movement. I have passionate beliefs regarding the oppression of women and people of racial minorities. I sought to learn from Davis’ ideology and proposed solutions to these conflicts that pervade our society. As well, I hoped to gain historical insight into her life and the civil rights movement of the 1960’s and 70’s. I believe this research paper to be a way to honor Davis for her efforts toward furthering justice for all people, no matter their sex or race.
Angela Davis grew up surrounded by politically opinionated, educated, and successful family members who influenced her ideals and encouraged her development and ambition. Her father attended St Augustine’s College, a historically black school in North Carolina (Davis 20). Her brother, Ben Davis, was a successful football player who was a member of teams such as the Cleveland Browns and the Detroit Lions (Davis 23). Her mother, Sallye Davis, was substantially involved in the civil rights movement and was a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (Davis 42). In addition, her mother joined the Southern Negro Youth Congress which had strong ties to the Communist Party. This involvement greatly influenced Davis as she had many associations with members of the party which later shaped her political views (“Complexity, Activism, Optimism: An Interview with Angela Y. Davis”).
Angela Yvonne Davis’ interest in social justice began during her youth when she was exposed firsthand to the hateful and violent consequences of racism. She was born on January 26, 1944 in Birmingham, Alabama (Aptheker 12). The area in which she lived was heavily targeted by members of the Klu Klux Klan. The Klan would bomb homes of African Americans in this area with such frequency that it was later referred to as “Dynamite Hill” (Aptheker 14). It was here that the infamous bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church occurred where 4 young girls, known personally by Davis, were killed. This incident greatly affected her and further sparked her passion for racial justice (Aptheker 14). In alabama, she attended a segregated school. Though her family was of generally middle class standing, she became aware of the poverty affecting her peers. This too contributed to her activist inclinations. (Aptheker 17)
Angela Davis’ thorough and rigorous involvement in higher education provided her with the tools needed to begin her life as a leader and activist. Though she grew up in Birmingham, she later moved to New York and attended Elisabeth Irwine High School, a private, racially integrated and progressive educational facility (“Complexity, Activism, Optimism: An Interview with Angela Y. Davis”). It was there she was further introduced to communism and her unwavering passion for education and...