Angela Davis - her influence since 1961

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Angela Davis: her influence since 1961

She is a civil rights activist. She was once on the FBI’s ‘most wanted’ list. And she is not going to stop. She talks to Frank Barat about her inspiration.

What’s your earliest memory?

I grew up in the south of the US when there was a lot of racist violence. When I was quite young, my parents moved to an area that the Ku Klux Klan often attacked. The earliest thing I remember was bombs across the street from our new home. Black people were allowed to live on the side of the street where we lived, but they were not allowed to buy houses or live on the other side of the street. This divided the white area from the black area. Many times, white people bought homes in the forbidden zone for black people who wanted to fight against the racist area laws. One Saturday night when I was almost three years old, I was washing my white shoelaces that I would need for Sunday School the next day. Suddenly the whole house began to shake violently. It was like the end of the world. I was more frightened than I had ever been, and ran screaming to my mother. Even now, when I hear loud noises like an explosion, I remember that moment.


Most of the new knowledge I get comes from young people Berthold Stadler / AP / Press Association Images

What does getting older mean to you?

As I get older, I try very hard to be like young people, with courage, enthusiasm and trying out new things. But at the same time I try to learn from the experiences I have had in the past. For example, I really do understand now how important it is to looking after yourself physically, mentally and spiritually. Most of the new knowledge I get comes from young people. It is good for everyone to meet people of different ages.

What do you feel very strongly about politically?

There are many political issues that I feel very strongly about – violence against women, the global prison-industrial complex, immigration rights, Palestine solidarity. I am passionate about all of these issues and many others. But I am most worried about the connections between these issues. Especially about Palestine. I am very happy that more African Americans are speaking out against Israeli apartheid.

What inspires you?

I have been fighting for Palestine for most of my life and thought I knew about Palestine before I went to the West Bank last year. I was surprised how shocked I was by the repression of the Israeli state. I was extremely inspired by the people who never give up, even after many decades of occupation. I was inspired by women activists, people who had been in prison, teachers, and especially by the children. The children have learned to fight for a better life and find happiness every day.

What’s your biggest fear?

My fear now, as Barack Obama begins his second term in office, is that we will forget that the real victory was that people in this country really want a change. During Obama’s second term, we will have to do more to get people and movements together. We need to make a difference in the lives of people who suffer from poverty, imprisonment and war because of the laws made by the government.

Where do you feel most at home?

I feel at home wherever there are people who are fighting for a world that is better than capitalism, racism and control by heterosexual men.

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