On August 18, 1970, Angela Yvonne Davis's name was added to the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List for kidnapping, murder, and interstate flight. Being hunted by J. Edgar Hoover for a crime she clearly did not commit made Davis instantly as famous or infamous, depending on your point of view, as revolutionaries such as Che and Mao.
Almost from day one, posters were the way the world connected with Angela Davis.
Last week, the FBI named former Black Panther and member of the Black Liberation Army Assata Shakur as the first woman on its Most Wanted Terrorist List. This dubious milestone occurred 40 years to the day after she was, as she describes, unfairly convicted of shooting and murdering State Trooper Werner Foester in New Jersey on May 2nd, 1973.
Director Shola Lynch spent eight years researching intricacies surrounding activist and scholar Angela Davis—she wanted to make sure that her film documenting Davis's controversial 1972 murder trial got the story right. And, well, she did.
A review and clip of her new film Free Angela and All Political Prisoners are below the cut.
One might have hoped that, by this hour, the very sight of chains on black flesh, or the very sight of chains, would be so intolerable a sight for the American people, and so unbearable a memory, that they would themselves spontaneously rise up and strike off the manacles. But no, they appear to glory in their chains; now, more than ever, they appear to measure their safety in chains and corpses. -James Baldwin to Angela Davis.*
Mavis Staples—gospel singer, soul artist and Civil Rights activist—is nothing short of a living legend. She started singing gospel with her family in the 1950s and had a successful Stax career as front woman for the Staple Singers. Though the family specialized in gospel, Staples' raw vocals and the band's bluesy arrangements endeared them to secular and religious audiences alike.
At seventy-two, she shows no signs of slowing down. Last year, she released Grammy-winning gospel album, You Are Not Alone, in a collaboration with Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy. It featured a handful of newly arranged old gospel songs as well as new ones like these (penned by Tweedy):
Prison-rights activist and black feminist Angela Davis was arrested forty years ago this month for accomplice to conspiracy, kidnapping, and homicide. Celebrate this iconic woman who has never stopped or been silenced by checking out a new documentary featuring her alongside fellow activist Yuri Kochiyama and a full-length segment on Democracy Now! More after the jump.
Doris Walker worked throughout her life protecting and defending leftist causes and activists. She participated as an activist and legal counsel throughout almost every major America progressive social movement in the twentieth century, from denouncing Jim Crow laws and McCarthyism, to being a labor lawyer and labor organizer, to helping to successfully acquit Angela Davis, and even challenging the Bush Administration's invasion of Afghanistan in Iraq.
If there's a silver lining to the bizarre arrest of prominent Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, it's his newly-inspired interest in exploring and exposing the racism that exists in our nation's prison system. Police arrested Gates this past Thursday after a neighbor saw him trying to push open his jammed front door, assumed (ostensibly because of his skin color) that he was an intruder and reported him accordingly. The event was a reminder of our justice system's tendency to disappear minorities, which is one of the unfortunate consequences of advanced corporate capitalism that deserves to be examined under a microscope by as many brilliant minds as possible (Angela Davis can't do it alone, people!)
Gates says that his arrest was a huge eye opener for him, and he has declared his intent to research and film a documentary that deals with racial profiling. He told the Washington Post that the project will ask, "How are people treated when they are arrested? How does the criminal justice system work? How many black and brown men and poor white men are the victims of police officers who are carrying racist thoughts?" I personally can't wait to see it, but if I could make one small request to Professor Gates, I would ask him to not forget about the women.