Day in the Life:
Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, Angela Davis was exposed to the brutalities associated with racism at a young age. She herself recollects how every day there was a threat to the Black lives in her community: “So many bombings took place in the neighborhood where I grew up… that it came to be called ‘Dynamite Hill.’ ” Davis’ life goal is to help humanity live in a world with true equality and peace. Everything she has done has helped her advance toward that goal.
Davis has had quite the life in her fight for civil rights. She was arrested, she was on the FBI’s most wanted list, she has taught and has spoken at several universities and institutions, and she has protested for several causes including gay rights, prison reform, and immigration reform. Through her work, Davis has exposed so many truths about the injustices within our society. Even with all of her commitments, she leads a balanced life, which is incredibly inspiring.
“How can we not only discover more compassionate relations with human beings but how can we develop compassionate relations with the other creatures with whom we share this planet and that would mean challenging the whole capitalist industrial form of food production.”
Davis has been a vegan for several years. For her, it is not just about her diet, but it is also about her lifestyle. She has advocated for animal rights, as she believes that animals are neglected and abused tremendously in the meat industry. It is important to understand the source of the food we eat. In a capitalistic society, food production can have various hidden complexities and cruelties. Which is why Davis encourages people to ask these questions for change to happen.
Fighting for Civil Rights
Since her time protesting the Vietnam War as a graduate student at UCSD, Davis has fought for many issues. One of the biggest issues she continues to advocate for is the abolition of the prison industrial complex. Prisons have enslaved Black people for years even after the end of slavery. There are several racial inequalities within the justice system. Davis co-founded the Critical Resistance to expand her work on prison reform and abolition. She advocates for the improvement of society through free education, healthcare, and housing. With these factors in place, Davis believes that society would be able to adjust to the abolition of a prison system.
In her youth and for several years, Davis was a part of the Communist party. While she is not a member anymore, she hopes that society will transition away from capitalism. She believes that capitalism creates many disparities and disadvantages for several communities.
An Icon for Fearlessness
Often times, the federal government saw Davis’s activism as a threat, so unsurprisingly, in the 1970s, she spent 16 months in prison. In this particular case, she was arrested by the FBI for defending and supposedly providing weapons to the Soledad Brothers, who were accused of killing a prison guard. This incident triggered a worldwide political campaign for her defense and release. The support she garnered led to the acquittal of all the charges put against her. Even when her critics tried to put her down, Davis continued to fight for and be relentless in the pursuit of justice and equality.
To this day, Davis has been speaking up during the current Civil Rights Movement. Even as an immunocompromised individual, she went out to protest (safely and socially distanced, of course) and showed her support for the cause. It is incredible to hear about the efforts she has contributed to bring attention to the voices of the silenced.
Davis started practicing Yoga and meditation while she was in solitary confinement in prison. This led her to incorporate these forms of self-care into her life even after prison. Davis is a proponent for radical self-care and hopes that all activists take the time to reflect and look after themselves. Radical self-care allows one to understand the purpose of their actions which can help them become more committed to a movement. This creates more longevity for a movement, as people are able to replenish their mind and spirit. It can be overwhelming and exhausting when fighting for a cause. It is essential that people take the time for themselves to recover. Whether you are protesting or helping your loved ones, make sure to create time for yourself to relax and reflect.
Educating the Future
Davis has been teaching as a professor for several years and continues to do so. Essentially, she believes that she can help students think critically when it comes to social issues. She has taught at UCLA, San Francisco State University, UC Santa Cruz, the Claremont Black Studies Center, Syracuse University, Rutgers University, and Vassar College. Also, she currently holds the title of Distinguished Professor Emerita at UC Santa Cruz. Furthermore, she has given speeches and been invited for discussion at several other universities. She tells her students to think beyond the text, as she believes that knowing facts is not actual education. In her classes, Davis pushes all of her students to think critically and empathetically when trying to understand different perspectives. Intellectual success, to Davis, means “figuring out how to ask the right questions at a particular moment,” and “learning how to make mistakes and learning from those mistakes.”
Her philosophy is necessary for the evolution and betterment of our world. If we don’t learn from our mistakes, how can we ensure true equality and freedom?
Angela Davis on eating chickens, Occupy, and including animals in social justice initiative of the 99%
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