By Darryn Simmons • email@example.com
December 2, 2008
Activist Angela Davis has fought for justice and racial equality for decades.
Now, after one of the most historic presidential elections ever,
Davis has a message -- there is much work left to be done.
Davis, a former Communist Party candidate for vice president who was
on the FBI's Most Wanted list at the age of 26, was the guest speaker
for this year's Ralph D. Abernathy Civil Rights Lecture Series at
Alabama State University on Monday.
The theme of her remarks was "The Legacy of the Montgomery Bus
Boycott and the Black Activist Movement."
"I feel extremely honored to have been invited and asked to present
this lecture, particularly at this time in the aftermath of this
recent election," Davis, co-founder of the National Alliance Against
Racist and Political Repression and a lecturer emeritus at the
University of California, Santa Cruz, said.
Davis said the election of Barack Obama was a milestone, but that
changes are still needed.
Her particular topic these days involves the plight of those in prison.
"I'm extremely concerned with the vast number of our population that
is behind bars," she said. "The United States has become the great
Davis said she is concerned about the civil rights of those in prison
and those that have served time and struggle when they are released
because of that part of their history.
That struggle takes on the same problems others faced during the
civil rights movement and later the black activist movement Davis was
a part of while being associated with the Black Panther Party for
Self Defense and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
Davis, a native of Birmingham, remembers how the civil rights
movement shaped her.
"I remember the lynching of Emmitt Till and how we celebrated when we
heard the news that the bus boycott was being organized," she said.
"I had the opportunity to have parents who were activists and they
told me things would be different. I learned to look beyond the
present and imagine a time when things like racism and poverty would
Davis is probably most famous for being imprisoned in 1970 when a
weapon registered in her name was linked to the murder of judge
Harold Haley during an attempt to free a black convict who was being
tried for the attempted murder of a white prison guard.
Though she went underground, she was the subject of an intense
manhunt and ended up on the FBI's Most Wanted List. She was
eventually arrested, tried and acquitted.
"There was a huge movement to free me, but it wasn't about me," Davis
said. "I was the beneficiary, but it was about all these people
coming together for a cause. Ronald Reagan was governor of California
at the time and Richard Nixon was president and both wanted to see me
go the death chamber."
Davis said that the movement for her freedom showed the collective
power that still exists when people come together for a cause.
She said it was an honor to speak at ASU and talk to the youth.
"Young people are the future," Davis said. "All great change comes
from young people. I work with a lot of young people that are so
enthusiastic and I learn a lot from them."
Davis said she wants to continue to see this generation make strides like hers.
"I have to remind myself that they won't do it the same way we did
it," she said. "Every generation has to find their own way."