The summer of 2012 was quite the time for me. As I said in my last piece in the ongoing series of, “Timeless Teachings,” I noted that it was in the summer of 2012 I had an awakening. Not so much a political awake, but more of a self-awareness awakening (if that makes sense).
The summer of 2012 is when I was first introduced to one of my most beloved civil rights heroines. First, I think it’s important to note that when we normally think about civil rights leaders, we tend to only focus on men. Even in school growing up, I never heard about women who fought the good fight back in the ’60s and ’70s.
Luckily now, in today’s political climate we have tons of leaders who happen to be women of color. Icons like Nina Turner and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have risen to new heights in American politics and society, but it’s mainly because they were able to stand on the shoulders of brave women like Angela Davis.
My first introduction to Angela Davis was in a documentary titled, The Black Power Mixtape 1967 – 1975. In the documentary, Swedish producers actually visit Angela while she was locked up on faulty charges she would later beat. Quick side note; After Davis purchased firearms for personal security guards, those guards used them in the 1970 armed takeover of a Marin County, California courtroom, in which four people were killed.
She was prosecuted for three capital felonies, including conspiracy to murder. During her interview, Angela said something that hit my soul. The interviewer asked if violence was necessary for a revolution. After giving a thoughtful, passionate answer by detailing her personal experience, as well as the known tragedies and violence committed against black people, she ended her response to the question with this quote.
“That’s why when someone asks me about violence I just find it incredible. The person who’s asking that question has no idea what black people have experienced in this country since the first black person was kidnapped from the shores of Africa.”
After she said that I was hooked. I took it upon myself to do more research on this beautifully, courageous soul! And like often, I started by listening and reading her speeches. Below I’ve highlighted a few quotes from one of my favorite speeches from the beautiful Angela Davis.
“The Liberation of Our People” November 12, 1969
“In order for the anti-war movement to be effective, it has to link up with the struggle for black and brown liberation in this country with the struggle of exploited white workers.”
“This whole economy in this country is a war economy. It’s based on the fact that more and more and more weapons are being produced. What happens if the war in Vietnam ceases? How is the economy going to stand unless another Vietnam is created.”
“I saw in television last week that the head of the National Guard in California decided that from now on their military activities are gonna be concentrated in three main areas. Now, what are these areas? First of all, he says, disruption in minority communities, then he says disruption on the campus, then he says disruption in industrial areas. I think it points to the fact that they are going to begin to use that whole military apparatus in order to put down the resistance in the black and brown community, on the campuses, in the working-class communities.”
“It’s evident that the terror is becoming not just isolated instances of police brutality here and there, but that terror is becoming an everyday instrument of the institutions of this country.”
“We all ought to talk about standing up and resisting this oppression, resisting the onslaught of fascism in this country. Otherwise, the movement is going to be doomed to failure.”
“We have been forced to see that the enemy is American imperialism and although we feel it here at home it’s being felt perhaps much more brutality in Vietnam, it’s being felt in Latin America, it’s being felt in Africa, we have to make these connections.”
“What we have to talk about now is a united force, which sees the liberation of the Vietnamese people as intricately linked up with the liberation of black and brown and exploited white people in this society, and only this kind of a united front, only this kind of a united force can be victorious.”