Angela Davis, the Birmingham-born revolutionary who helped inspire today’s abolition movement, is celebrating her birthday today, Jan. 26!
Besides being renowned for her critique of the prison system, Angela Davis was a known associate of the Black Panther Party (though despite the misconception, she was never a Black Panther), a prominent Communist and outspoken anti-capitalist, and one of the most prominent voices of the Black Power movement.
Here are some of the legendary freedom fighter’s iconic moments.
“Do you get [to revolution] by confrontation? Violence?” a reporter asked Davis in a 1972 interview. “Oh is that that question you were asking?” she begins rhetorically as a smile forms across her face, knowing full well that was the minute the reporter would regret ever asking the question.
“I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. Some very, very good friends of mine were killed by bombs, bombs that were planted by racists,” she said of the Birmingham church bombing that killed four young girls, one of whom was her neighbor. “When someone asks me about violence I just find it incredible…what it means is that the person asking that question has absolutely no idea what Black people have gone through.”
Davis was well ahead of her time, as her 2003 book raised questions about a penitentiary system we assume is necessary to society and has become required reading for the modern abolition movement.
In the early 1970s, the “Free Angela” movement took hold in Latin America, Europe, and the U.S after she was linked to a failed plot to free a political prisoner.
Davis began to be associated with the Black Panther Party while she was an associate professor at the esteemed California school.
Activity that made her a target of then-California Governor Ronald Reagan–who forced her firing from the university– made her a legend-in-the-making.
In her book published in the early 1980s, Davis shed light on the specific experiences Black women faced in a country built on servitude, while white women were centered in the feminist movement.