Angela Davis was a spokesperson in the Black struggle for civil rights and equality. In addition, she became a leader in the Black women's movement.
Angela Yvonne Davis was born on January 26, 1944, in Birmingham, Alabama. Growing up in the South gave Davis many opportunities to experience the racism and oppression that she would later fight against. In the 1950's, while still a high school student, she became actively involved in the civil rights movement which was gaining momentum at the time. Davis was an extremely bright student, and at the age of fifteen she received a scholarship to attend the prestigious Elizabeth Irwin High School in New York City (Current Biography, 1973, p. 98). In 1961, she began studying French literature at Brandeis University in Massachusetts. During her educational career, Davis also spent a year studying at the University of Paris, and two years studying at the Goethe University in Germany.
In 1963, an important event occurred in Davis' life which started turning her toward militant activism. In September of that year, a group of white racists set off a bomb in a church in Birmingham. This explosion killed four little girls, three of whom Davis had known personally (Davis, et al., 1971, p. 184). Davis' outlook on life became further radicalized in 1964, when she began studying under the Marxist philosopher Herbert Marcuse. Marcuse, who taught at Brandeis University, influenced Davis to develop a Communist philosophy focused on the need to fight social repression through "individual acts of resistance and rebellion" (Current Biography, 1973, p. 99). In 1968, she officially joined the Communist Party.
In 1969, Davis was hired as a professor of philosophy for the University of California at Los Angeles. Almost immediately, however, the Board of Regents at that school began making efforts to fire her on the grounds that she was an avowed Communist. Unable to fire her on these gr...