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Bettina Aptheker

A renowned public intellectual, Angela Y. Davis has been internationally recognized as a leader in movements for peace, social justice, national liberation, and women’s equality. A scholar and prolific writer, Davis has published five books and scores of essays, commentaries, and reviews. Since the 1970s she has persevered in struggles to free political prisoners and to dismantle what she was the first to call the prison-industrial complex.

Angela Yvonne Davis was born in Birmingham, Alabama. She was the oldest of four children. Her mother, Sally E. Davis, was a public-school teacher, and her father, B. Frank Davis although qualified to teach managed a service station in order to enhance the family s income Davis s parents were deeply involved in their church and community and committed to the struggle for civil rights When Davis was four years old her family moved out of the all black projects ...

Article

Brittney L. Yancy

activist, philosopher, Marxist, and professor. Angela Davis was born 26 January 1944, in Birmingham, Alabama, in an area that was so frequently bombed by the Ku Klux Klan it was known as Dynamite Hill. Born to B. Frank Davis, a teacher and businessman, and Sally Davis, who was also a teacher, Angela Davis's political activism started in her early childhood, and by high school, she volunteered for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). At the age of fifteen, Davis received a scholarship to finish school at the Elizabeth Irwin School in New York City. Davis's teacher introduced her to socialist ideas that would inform her political participation in the civil rights and Black Power movements. When Davis finished high school in 1961, she moved to Massachusetts to attend Brandeis University, where she graduated in 1965 with degrees in philosophy and French ...

Article

Lawrie Balfour

Angela Yvonne Davis was, in several ways, born into the heart of the struggle for civil rights. Her family lived in the middle-class section of Birmingham, Alabama, that came to be known as Dynamite Hill because so many Ku Klux Klan bombings occurred there. Davis attended segregated schools, where children were taught black history but at the same time were denied adequate school supplies and facilities. Her mother and grandmother encouraged Davis to fight for civil rights while she was still in elementary school. As a high school student, Davis helped organize interracial study groups that were broken up by the police.

When she was fifteen, Davis left Birmingham to attend the Elizabeth Irwin School in New York City. Teachers at the politically progressive school introduced Davis to Socialism, from which she gained ideas that informed her later activism. From 1961 to 1965 Davis attended Brandeis University ...

Article

Stacy Braukman

radical activist, scholar, and prison abolitionist, was born in Birmingham, Alabama, to Frank and Sally Davis. Her father, a former teacher, owned a service station, and her mother was a schoolteacher. Both had ties to the NAACP and friends in numerous radical groups, including the Communist Party. When Angela was four years old, her family moved from a housing project to a white neighborhood across town. The experience of being the only African Americans surrounded by hostile whites taught Davis at a young age the ravages of racism. Indeed, during the mid- to late 1940s, as more black families began moving into the area, white residents responded with violence, and the neighborhood took on the unenviable nickname “Dynamite Hill.” Davis's racial consciousness was further sharpened by attending the city's vastly inferior segregated public schools.As a junior at Birmingham s Parker High School at the age ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

a singer who lived for over thirty years in Russia, both under Tsar Nicholas and during the first decades of the Soviet Union, was born in Augusta, Georgia, according to her 1901 passport application. Some accounts give her year of birth as 1870. Multiple passport applications give 1875. Census records suggest she may have been the daughter of John and Ann Harris, who in 1880 were illiterate tenant farmers in Carnesville, Franklin County, northwest of Augusta. The subsequent history of her older brothers, Andrew J. and Henry Harris, and younger sister Lulu, are unknown.

In 1892Harris married Joseph B. Harris (no relation), moving with him to Brooklyn, where she worked as a domestic and directed a Baptist church choir. She went to Europe in May 1901 as a member of the “Louisiana Amazon Guards,” a singing group assembled by the German promoter Paule ...

Article

In recalling the events of her life, “Queen Mother” Moore stated its theme: “there wasn’t nothing to do but get into the struggle.” A powerful street speaker and adept political organizer, Moore was involved for almost a century in a host of crucial campaigns in support of Garveyism, the Harlem boycott and renters’ rights movements, the Republican and Communist parties, the Scottsboro defense, Pan-Africanism, and the reparations movement.

Born in New Iberia, Louisiana, Moore had experiences growing up in the South that profoundly influenced her political vision. Her parents’ lives had been shaped by white violence, and her own memories included lynchings, manhunts, and overt discrimination. Moore’s father, St. Cyr Moore, born as a result of his mother’s rape by a white man, ran a livery stable. Moore’s mother, Ella Henry was raised in a middle class French Creole household after her father was lynched by whites ...

Article

Born in rural Louisiana, Audley Moore and her family experienced the terror of racism in its most brutal form with the Lynching of her paternal grandfather. Her parents died when Moore was in the fourth grade, and by the time she was fifteen she had to raise and support herself and her two sisters by working as a hairdresser.

Her family's suffering and the racism she faced pushed Moore to political activism. In New Orleans she joined Marcus Garvey's militant Universal Negro Improvement Association, inspired by Garvey's Black Nationalism and pride in blacks' African heritage. Part of the great migration from rural South to urban North, Moore and her sisters moved to Harlem in the 1920s. Moore became a prominent organizer for the Communist Party particularly in defense of the Scottsboro Boys eight young men in Alabama who were wrongly convicted of rape and sentenced to death ...

Article

Erik S. McDuffie

black nationalist, was born Audley Moore, the daughter of St. Cyr Moore and Ella Hunter, in New Iberia, Louisiana, a small town near New Orleans. As a young child, she heard stories about her maternal grandfather being lynched, her paternal grandmother being raped by a slave master, and her father being forcibly removed from his position as deputy sheriff by whites. Yet her family instilled in her a strong sense of racial pride and resistance.

By 1914, with only a fourth-grade education, Moore was obliged to take care of her younger sisters, Eloise and Lorita They moved to New Orleans where she worked as a domestic and hairdresser and learned firsthand the drudgery of the black urban working class life Moore and her sisters moved to Anniston Alabama a highly segregated town during World War I Eloise Moore established a recreation center for black soldiers ...

Article

Robin D. Kelley

Thompson brought to the Communist Party an unusually sophisticated understanding of the complexities of race and gender oppression—a unique perspective for an organization that emphasized class exploitation above all else. Born in Chicago, but raised in several predominantly white, often racist communities in the West, she eventually settled with her family in Oakland, California, in 1919. She earned a degree in economics from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1923, but racism limited her career opportunities. She chose to go back to the Midwest and work toward a graduate degree at the University of Chicago, but she abandoned the idea soon thereafter. Giving up school, as well as a lucrative position at a black-owned Chicago firm, Thompson headed south to accept a teaching job in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, in 1925 and a year later accepted a faculty position at Hampton Institute in Virginia Because of her ...

Article

Erik S. McDuffie

cultural and political radical, activist, and feminist, was born Louise Alone Toles in Chicago, the daughter of William Toles, a bartender, and Lula Brown Toles. In 1904 Louise's parents separated, and in the next ten years she lived throughout the Northwest with her mother and her stepfather, William Thompson. Often the only black child in town, Louise was the target of vicious racial insults. In an effort to maintain her self-respect she strove to excel in school. In 1919 she enrolled at the University of California at Berkeley. There she attended a lecture by W. E. B. Du Bois a founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People For the first time in my life she recalled I was proud to be black Du Bois s talk prompted Thompson to dream of traveling to New York City and becoming involved ...