2013 MLK Celebration Guest Lecturer
Through her activism and scholarship over the last decades, Angela Davis has been deeply involved in our nation's quest for social justice. Her work as an educator – at the university level and in the larger public sphere – has always emphasized the importance of building communities of struggle for economic, racial and gender justice.
Dr. Davis' teaching career has taken her to San Francisco (Calif.) State University, Mills College, and UC Berkeley. She also has taught at UCLA, Vassar, the Claremont (Calif.) Colleges and Stanford (Calif.) University. She spent the last 15 years at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she is Distinguished Professor Emerita of History of Consciousness, an interdisciplinary Ph.D program, and of Feminist Studies.
Davis is the author of nine books and has lectured throughout the United States as well as in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and South America. In recent years a persistent theme of her work has been the range of social problems associated with incarceration and the generalized criminalization of those communities that are most affected by poverty and racial discrimination. She draws upon her own experiences in the early '70s as a person who spent 18 months in jail and on trial, after being placed on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted List." Davis also has conducted extensive research on numerous issues related to race, gender and imprisonment. Her most recent book is "The Meaning of Freedom and Other Difficult Dialogues."
Davis is a founding member Critical Resistance, a national organization dedicated to the dismantling of the prison industrial complex. Internationally, she is affiliated with Sisters Inside, an abolitionist organization based in Queensland, Australia, that works in solidarity with women in prison.
Like many other educators,Davis is especially concerned with the general tendency to devote more resources and attention to the prison system than to educational institutions. Having helped to popularize the notion of a "prison industrial complex," she now urges her audiences to think seriously about the future possibility of a world without prisons and to help forge a 21st-century abolitionist movement.