Hollywood's Undying Love for Communist Angela Davis
A vicious totalitarian's legacy is whitewashed by some of the country's biggest celebrities.
Recently, The Daily Beast disgraced itself by providing a platform for communist Bill Ayers to spread unchallenged lies about his background in the Weather Underground terrorist organization, which is presently the subject of an exonerating new film by leftist actor Robert Redford. The film, The Company You Keep, is not unlike the prior whitewash of communism Redford presented in the 1973 film The Way We Were, co-starring fellow left-winger Barbra Streisand. Following in Redford’s footsteps, some of the biggest names in Hollywood have just released an equally mendacious portrait of radical Angela Davis in the documentary Free Angela & All Political Prisoners, a work that further popularizes Davis’s fictional persona as a “social justice” advocate and racial equality icon of the Sixties. What audiences will be robbed of in this historical distortion, however, is a truthful look at Davis’s “political” career – filled as it is with violent militarism, racial hatred and complicity in murder. The documentary will also not reveal the destructive work Davis continues today by promoting the release of black criminals back into black communities to further terrorize their populations (90% of the victims of black criminals are black).
Thus, while Davis’s celebrity followers set out to whitewash a brutal totalitarian’s legacy, it would seem to be an appropriate occasion to take a look back at the true historical record of Angela Davis’s life.
Davis grew up in a middle class family from Birmingham, Alabama, and later attended New York’s communist Little Red Schoolhouse (LRS). Later at Brandeis University, she spent her junior year in France, meeting Algerian revolutionaries during the visit. After graduating, she spent two years as a member of the faculty at Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany. She came back to America for a teaching position at UCLA, where she worked for Herbert Marcuse, a fellow Marxist.
In 1967, Davis joined the Black Panther Party (BPP). Founded in 1966, the BBP was motivated – not by a vision of racial harmony – but black separatism, racial hate and the use of violence to achieve its objectives. It also advocated an end to the capitalist system that “oppressed” blacks and demanded that the federal government provide black Americans with full employment, guaranteed income, as well as their own jurisdiction within the U.S.
BPP founders Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale were ruthless practitioners of political violence. In 1968, the BPP made “Mao’s Red Book” required reading for its members. Davis, like many women in BBP, rose to prominence by partaking in violence and getting arrested for it.
In 1968 Davis joined the Communist Party, declaring, “The only path of liberation for black people is that which leads toward complete and radical overthrow of the capitalist class." Davis was fired from UCLA in 1969, when her Communist association was revealed. The ensuing First Amendment case resulting in her reinstatement turned Davis into a national figure.
In 1970, Soledad Prison guard John Mills was killed, a crime for which three convicts, George Jackson, Fleeta Drumgo and John Cluchette (subsequently known as the "Soledad Brothers”), were held responsible. Jackson, a BPP member like Davis, was her lover, and the two maintained a secret marriage while Jackson was in prison. A deadly plot was hatched to get Jackson out of jail for which Davis bought an arsenal of weapons just two days prior to the slaughter. On August 7, 1970, George Jackson’s 17-year-old brother, Jonathan, charged into a Marin County courtroom and took several people hostage, including Judge Harold Haley, the prosecuting assistant DA, and two jurors. The assailants taped a sawed-off shotgun (owned by Davis) to Haley’s chin. In the ensuing escape attempt, a shootout took place during which Haley’s head was blown off, and Jonathan Jackson was killed. A week after the horrific event, an arrest warrant charging Davis with murder and kidnapping was issued.
Davis had already fled the state, using a series of aliases and disguises to avoid detection. Two months later, she was arrested in New York City by the FBI. Her trial took place in 1972, after more than a year of delays caused by the disqualification of several judges and a change of venue. The prosecution advanced its case based on love letters found in Jackson’s cell after he was killed during another escape attempt (in that incident, Jackson bound three security guards and slit their throats). Davis had kept constant company with Jonathan Jackson in the days leading up to the attempted kidnappings.
Davis, acting as her own attorney, spoke for 80 minutes, giving her version of the events. She claimed her interest in George Jackson was based on an effort to “free all oppressed men and women and the Soledad brothers,” that she spent considerable time with Jonathan Jackson because she was fearful of being attacked by “extremists” after she lost her job at UCLA, and that she purchased guns because, growing up, her father taught her to be fearful of racial violence. She claimed Jonathan stole the guns from her, and that her love for George happened after her own incarceration, “because like him, I was a political prisoner.” After that speech, Davis never testified again. Because she acted as her own attorney, her testimony was never subjected to cross-examination.
Davis was subsequently implicated by more than 20 witnesses in the plot to free George Jackson. In turn, Davis’s defense team presented several alibi witnesses, almost all of whom were fellow Communist friends. They testified Davis was in LA at the time of the kidnapping and murder of Haley. Prior to the trial, the defense team had filed a steady stream of motions, all based on the idea that white prejudice would tilt the scales of justice unfairly. They also used psychiatrists, psychologists and a handwriting expert to pick a jury based on how they would interact as a group.
The defense team did their work well. The first vote by the jury, which was packed with Davis sympathizers like radical activist Mary Timothy, was 10-2 for acquittal. After they reached a unanimous verdict and Davis was acquitted, the majority of the jury attended a music festival victory celebration with her. Juror Ralph Delange, exiting the court after the verdict, gave a revolutionary clenched fist salute to a cheering crowd. “I did it because I wanted to show I felt an identity with the oppressed people in the crowd,” he explained to reporters. “All through the trial, they thought we were just a white, middle class jury. I wanted to express my sympathy with their struggle.”
A triumphant Davis moved on, continuing to promote her Communist agenda. In 1979, her efforts earned her the International Lenin Peace Prize awarded by the police state of East Germany. The Soviet government-appointed panel that awarded her the prize said that her work had “strengthened peace among peoples.” Davis twice ran for Vice President of the United States, in 1980 and 1984, on the Communist Party ticket. She remained in the party until her expulsion in 1991, for opposing the coup against Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
Davis, like many “rehabilitated” radicals, is a college professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in the Feminist Studies Department. The department awarded a Ph.D. to BPP founder and cop killer Huey P. Newton while Davis was on the faculty. Davis, who has subsequently become a Distinguished Professor Emerita in her department, remains fixated on what she terms the “prison industrial complex,” and when she lectures, she tells her audiences to envision a world where there are no prisons at all.
In a 1998 essay, Davis revealed that she considers prisons the “corporatization of punishment” and that the “great majority of people have been tricked into believing in the efficacy of imprisonment, even though the historical record clearly demonstrates that prisons do not work.” She further insists that “conversations about ‘race relations’ will hardly dismantle a prison industrial complex that thrives on and nourishes the racism hidden within the deep structures of our society.” Thus, she advocates “increasing strands of resistance to the prison industrial complex into a powerful movement for social transformation.”
A 2007 special report released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics reveals where that “social transformation” would inevitably lead. It notes that between 8,000 and 9,000 black Americans are murdered annually in the United States and that 93 percent of these murders are perpetrated by other blacks. In Davis’s world, these criminals would never be imprisoned at all, or they would be freed from prison to perpetrate additional crimes that, as the statistics reveal, disproportionally victimize “people of color” about whom Davis professes to be so concerned.
Davis has never expressed remorse for her aggressive promotion of violent militarism – or recanted her devotion to the bloody ideology of Marxism. She is adored by her fellow leftists, for whom her association with assorted thugs, murderers and anti-white racists never dampens their enthusiasm. While her followers bring her to campuses to rail against the evils of capitalism, she collects tens of thousands of dollars per diem in speaking fees.
Jada Pinkett Smith, her husband, Will Smith, and rapper Jay-Z, produced Free Angela & All Political Prisoners and are currently out promoting the lie of Angela Davis being a peace-loving “social justice” advocate. In an interview with NPR, Pinkett Smith said that Davis “became this figure that embodied justice and freedom, and that people all over the world that were fighting for justice and freedom, you know, used her as the symbol in which to forge ahead.”
Pinkett Smith continued:
>I look at Angela Davis now as being a figure that was really in the middle of the building blocks of the America that we have today, and that she was really part of a time where America was shifting its consciousness, and she was a big part of that. And I look at this story as being one of the reasons and parts of the path of how we’ve gotten to have an African-American president, or even for myself or my husband or, you know, my kids to exist in the way that we do.
As for Jay-Z, perhaps his feelings regarding Davis are best expressed by the reality that he and his wife, singer Beyonce Knowles, just recently made headlines by spending their fifth wedding anniversary in Communist Cuba, legitimizing Castro’s murderous regime in the process. Burnishing his ignorance even further, Jay-Z has worn a Che Guevara T-shirt on many occasions, indifferent to the fact that Guevara was not only a Marxist murderer, but a self-avowed racist as well. "The Negro is indolent and lazy, and spends his money on frivolities,“ Guevara wrote in his autobiography, "Motorcycle Diaries.”
Angela Davis’s persona is no less subject to such deliberate mythologizing. NPR host Michel Martin gushed during her interview with Pinkett Smith:
[Davis] is like a lot of figures from the ‘60s in the sense that, at the time, these were people who evoked hatred in some quarters. And now, some of these figures have just become really beloved, you know, cultural figures.
Sadly, turning totalitarians and cold-blooded killers into “beloved” folk heroes and role models is all too common on the Left. It was just recently revealed, for instance, that Columbia University has hired former Weather Underground terrorist and convicted cop-killer Kathy Boudin. Boudin spent 22 years in prison for her role in an armored truck robbery in which two policemen and a Brinks guard were killed. NYU Law School added to the insult, awarding Boudin the Sheinberg Scholar-in-Residence, apparently for her lecture on "the politics of parole and re-entry" given at the university in March.
The situation is no different with Davis. Hollywood supporters like Pinkett Smith and Jay-Z conceal the fact that she was a member of an organization dedicated to violence, or that she was an unrepentant Communist for most of her life, embracing a hideous ideology responsible for the deaths of more than 100 million people.
Nor does it matter that this “innocent” woman changed her appearance and used several aliases to evade arrest for her complicity in the Marin county murder. That she continues to champion the idea that any black American held in prison is a “political prisoner” irrespective of the crime committed – even as she hypocritically supported the imprisonment of Soviet dissidents and championed the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 – can all be swept under the rug to honor this “great woman," as film director Shola Lynch refers to her. The truth about Davis, however, is nothing like the story her acolytes tell. As the facts make clear, Davis is just another totalitarian monster who has human blood on her hands – because of her vicious attempt to bring her morbid ideals into earthly incarnation.
Arnold Ahlert is a columnist for FrontPage Magazine.