Adventures in Feministory: Free Angela!
The groundswell of support that Angela Davis received after her wrongful imprisonment in 1970 (based on trumped up murder charges in connection with the Black Panthers’ attempt to free three black prisoners from a correctional facility in Soledad, California) was enough to get her acquitted 18 months later by an all-white jury. The involvement of her close friend Bettina Aptheker in particular is an awesome story of sisterhood and solidarity, and is the focus of this week’s Adventures in Feministory.
Davis and Aptheker met when they were both teenagers and members of the Brooklyn chapter of Advance, a socialist youth group. A decade later, after Angela's arrest, Bettina went against many in the Communist Party (of which both women were members) to advocate for her release. Aptheker was part of the National United Committee to Free Angela Davis (NUCFAD), which helped to bring international attention to Davis' case. The two women worked closely together to tailor a defense strategy, and they even collaborated on projects while Angela was still in prison, including the co-edited volume If They Come in the Morning: Voices of Resistance (the title was borrowed from an open letter written by James Baldwin, another Davis supporter.)
Today, both women are tenured professors at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Davis is renowned for her work in the field of prison reform and abolition, and Aptheker teaches a hugely popular intro to feminism course- so popular, in fact, that it has been recorded and sold on DVD (download her 6-minute definition of feminism- it's incredible.) I think these women serve as an example that standing up for a cause is great, but standing up for a friend is even greater (and can often turn into a cause itself.) Cheesiness alert! But serioulsly, these ladies rock.
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