Pomona College, a member of the Claremont Colleges consortium, has paid for University of California, Santa Cruz Professor Emerita Angela Davis to come to campus. An internationally recognized, controversial activist, Davis has spoken on many issues ranging from feminism to racial justice.
“Professor Angela Davis is an internationally-known scholar and an icon in the movement to combat oppression in the U.S. and abroad. For more than a half century, her work as a writer, teacher, and activist has emphasized the importance of building communities of struggle for economic, racial, and gender equality,” reads Pomona’s statement.
However, Davis is thought to have engineered a 1970 hostage-taking terror attack on a California courtroom to free a man being tried for killing a prison guard. Despite having purchased the firearms used to kill a judge and three men during the escape, Davis was acquitted in 1972. Pomona’s announcement does not mention this detail, stating that “Because of her support of George Jackson and the “Soledad Brothers,” Angela Davis found herself on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted” list in 1970.”
Davis taught at the University of California, San Diego after her graduate work at the University of Frankfurt. She was also appointed to be an acting assistant professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, but was fired for “inflammatory language.” She was also a Professor of Ethnic Studies at the San Francisco State University, Rutgers University, and University of California, Santa Cruz, focusing her research and race and racism.
In 1975, Davis joined the Claremont Colleges’ Black Studies Center, but her appointment was terminated after only one year. Pomona College notes that Davis’ initial “hiring incited resistance from administrators, trustees, and donors.”
Beyond alleged physical acts of terrorism, Davis has a laundry list of racist and bigoted remarks. In a speech in 1969, she advocated for sympathy for three members of the Black Panther organization who tortured to death another member of their organization that they thought was an FBI informant.
Davis was also an unapologetic supporter of some of the world’s most controversial organizations and countries. Davis was an ardent enthusiast of the Jim Jones cult, which coerced its nearly 1,000 members to commit mass suicide.
Davis expressed praise for the “glorious name of” Lenin and Soviet regimes, even defending some of their more controversial actions. When asked about how she felt as to the murder of millions of dissidents and people who disagree with the communist ideology, she remarked that people deserve imprisonment if they are “undermining the government[s].” When controversial activist and former Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz asked if Davis would be able to try to use her influence within the USSR to help free Jewish prisoners, almost all of whom were imprisoned for trying to flee the USSR for Israel, she allegedly wrote that “They are all Zionist fascist opponents of socialism” and refused to help. Davis has not publicly disputed this account.
Pomona has not invited a single conservative speaker on campus in at least 5 years.
Davis is speaking through Pomona College’s Ena H. Thompson Lectureship program, where “visiting lecturers are elected both on the basis of their past contributions to the discipline and of the importance of their current research in advancing the field [of history].”
Update: This article has been amended and updated to better reflect Davis’s academic record.
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