Angela Davis Interview (1971)


Angela Davis activist and author gives an interview in 1971 for a  news film from Vibrations. This was filmed when she was on trial in a controversial California court case involving the Black Panthers. The introduction to the film refers to the Black Nationalist Movement and the Black Liberation Movement as “a militant minority movement.” This reveals the level of bias and prejudice that African Americans face when fighting for basic rights. The first section of the interview discusses what is exactly revolutionary. Angela Davis explains that the whole structure of society will have to be rebuilt in terms of economics and politics. The people should have control the wealth of the nation, not a privilege few. People erroneously associate violence with being a revolutionary. However, oppressive states use violence to maintain control . They will never willingly provide rights to the oppressed. That explains why some arm themselves against the violence of the state. African Americans could not wait any longer for the government to grant them rights; the strangle hold of white supremacy was becoming more lethal. Angela Davis also reveals her respect for George Jackson a well known African American Marxist. Angela Davis then asked the question “what does justice mean?” This question plagues the United States. People of different ethnic and class groups will not receive equal justice. At the time of this interview, the prison industrial complex was just emerging. President Richard M. Nixon initiated the War on Drugs which targeted poor and African American communities. Imprisoning people would be come a big business. Racism and a general disrespect for the rule of law created a toxic atmosphere in the United States. Angela Davis believes the best way to challenge racism is to destroy the structure in which oppression functions.


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