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Angela Davis: An Autobiography by Angela…
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Angela Davis: An Autobiography (1974)

by Angela Davis

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This book reveals the person behind the icon. Angela Davis, friend and schoolmate of the four little girls killed in the horrible Birmingham firebombing. Academic above all else until she joined in the liberation struggle. Proud communist until she broke with the group when the Soviet military attempted an overthrow of Gorbachev. Fugitive. Professor whom Ronald Reagan attempted to silence and dismiss. Ally of the Black Panther Party. Comrade of Jonathan and George Jackson. Cane cutter in Cuba.

The book cover shows a woman who dares not look directly at the camera. Based on what she reveals in the book, Davis was a most private person whose entire persona was challenged and opened up by the 16 months she spent in jail, in the old Womens House of Detention in NYC and in California. The inhumanely miserable conditions and the support of the women jailed with her, even some of the guards, seems to have made her into a different woman, one who could engage directly rather than from the heights of academia and Marxist rhetoric.

An inspiring story and a solid view behind the curtains. ( )
  froxgirl | Oct 20, 2014 |
"...render impassable with our bodies the corridor to the gas chamber. For, if they take you in the morning, they will be coming for us that night." -James Baldwin, An Open Letter to My Sister, Angela Y. Davis

On the FBI's most wanted list at only 26yrs old. A life so eventful she could write an utterly suspenseful autobiography at 28yrs old.

Angela Y. Davis.

When I started reading this autobiography I had to stop a moment and think about the ages Davis was when all these events were taking place. This autobiography was sobering to say the least. Currently at ages 23-26, most women have extremely superficial or vanity laden thoughts. At the same age Angela Davis was making history. She was one of the leaders and very few women of a national movement to liberate Black and Brown people alike.

"...love has been ordained by God. White people's hatred of us was neither natural nor eternal."

In Birmingham, AL, Davis grew up in the middle of the civil Rights Movement and constant bombings in her neighborhood. When Davis speaks about her parents and siblings, especially her mother, there is a certain tenderness and love that leaps off the page. Despite all she faced she stated she wanted it all to be over more so for her mom than herself. Her sister Fania was relentless in her devotion. There were numerous loyal friends from various political factions. Throughout this book you get the feel that Angela Davis was born for the fight she was in. She had a certain resilience and calm that most people, man or woman, would break into pieces under. She was totally devoted to the revolution. During her stay in the NY House of Detention, Davis really began to develop where her life work would be. There is where she saw addicts as young as fourteen, deplorable living conditions, and guards who she described as prisoners themselves. Davis spent a lot of her time in jail observing the system instead of allowing it to defeat her. She was determined to help her fellow sisters and brothers that were living in subhuman conditions and being denied even some of the most basic necessities. While in prison, she seemed detached from her own plight thinking on how she could assist or gain assistance for others.

"I decided then and there that if I was ever free, I would use my life to uphold the cause of my sisters and brothers behind walls."

Davis stated that she hated being the center of excessive attention and never aspired to be a "public revolutionary." She had to get use to it quick. Right now in 2012 she is still larger than life. The most moving sections of this autobiography for me was the times Davis spent in prison and her love for George Jackson. In prison she described the horrors of and shed a blinding light on the injustices within the penal system. The isolation that was imposed on her was designed to destroy her. It is was simply mind blowing. The only time Davis gave a glimpse into her personal life was when it came to George Jackson. She still remained very discreet. You get the feel that Davis is very guarded in this area which is understandable. The love between them was so strong when she when did describe it she could not have left it out of her story if she wanted to. When Davis received the news that George was killed in San Quentin it was heartbreaking. She decribed it as "the loss of an irretrievable love." This was a man she only saw in chains. Their love blossomed out of words and a love for the people. This devastating loss seemed to have pushed her on to victory. ( )
  pinkcrayon99 | Oct 10, 2012 |
this is not pop fiction. You're not going to get neat drawn-out analogies that compares human struggle to a football game or any such nonsense. It's a very intelligent, articulate book that doesn't try to dumb down its message for the uninitiated. But it's also not rocket science. Read it with an open mind and any knowledge you may have of the 60's and 70's and you'll do just fine.
What is often misunderstood is that Ms. Davis did not like the idea of a 'personal' autobiography and was very reluctant to do the book in the first place. She didn't see herself as so special or disconnected in any way from the lives of the millions of struggling people that she and her struggle sought to better. So, she wrote a 'political' autobiography. Every facet of her own life that she chose to share with us is tied in some way to that struggle to bring dignity to the masses of human beings exploited throughout the world. What you walk away with after reading this book is how much she really does care the lives of people. It's not just a bunch of abstract ideas, neat theories, or some trivial intellectual excercise. It really is life and death issues. And she fought for the lives of many as if she would fight for her own.

I think the most important thing you walk away with, and what she wants you to walk away with, is a clear and powerful demonstration of just how much people can bring about real change when we work together collectively in mass and fight for what we believe is right. Time and time again, victory after victory, against what some would consider insurmountable odds, the will of the people were heard. Not because they elected some noble politician who changed it from within. And not because of the kindness of those in power. But because thousands of everyday people like you and me took to the streets and DEMANDED that obvious wrongs be made right. Anyone who takes for granted the 5-day work week, child labor laws, civil rights, humane working conditions, fair and equal compensation, should not take lightly the efforts of people throughout history like Ms. Angela Davis. We benefit from all those things because people got in the street, fought and died for those things. Check your history.

The bottom line is if you are looking for 'light' entertainment reading, you might not find it in this book. But, if you are politicially minded or even curious about the social environment of the 60's, this is a must read. If you care about the plight of black people and opressed people everywhere, get this book. If all you've ever known about revolution, black power struggle, and those damn communists is what you've read about in school or in the papers and you KNOW they're not telling the full story, get this book. Finally, if you know how messed up things are in this country but don't know what to do about it, your life will be changed by this book ( )
1 vote addict | Dec 28, 2006 |
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The political activist reflects upon the people and incidents that have influenced her life and commitment to global liberation of the oppressed.

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